Saturday 20th January 15.00
Sam Allardyce took the reins at Crystal Palace a day after previous manager Alan Pardew was given an early Christmas present – a one way ticket out the back door. Statistically the most successful England manager ever (one win from one game), much was expected of Allardyce given his track record of steadying ships and bringing a measure of solidity to teams in his charge. Supporters would want to hope he starts living up to his reputation soon as in the four league games played since he took over, the club have managed to claim just a single point.
Didn’t see that coming
Everton are in a far better place than their hosts. A very rocky period followed their impressive start to the season but they look to have gotten back on track of late. This upswing in form is best illustrated by their smashing of Manchester City last weekend, a 4-0 home victory surely ranking as one of their finest wins in recent years.
Giving youth its head
Accusations of a lack of trust in Southampton’s young players followed Ronald Koeman to Everton but the Dutchman’s faith in both Tom Davies and Mason Holgate was handsomely repaid as the former had a storming game in midfield and scored a wonderful solo goal at the end and the latter looked assured in a three man defence which was rarely troubled by Sergio Aguero and co.
The bullying Belgian
Leading their charge up front, Romelu Lukaku has helped himself to 12 goals this season and will be eager to add to that tally. Everton’s revamped formation has meant that he has far more support than earlier in the season and he will fancy his chances against a Crystal Palace defence that shipped 40 goals in the league already. Only Hull have a worse defensive record.
Their work cut out for them
Speaking of Hull, Palace are now level with them on points and it is only goal difference which keeps them above the bottom three. No team has worse form over the last 15 games than the home side, their record being W1 D3 L11. The 33 goals conceded in that time averages over two conceded per game. They are not the kind of stats to bring confidence when up against a team who have scored 11 in their last four league outings.
Palace are missing two of their best and most creative players in Wilf Zaha and James McArthur whereas Everton have added Morgan Scneiderlin to their ranks in addition to the sparkling form of their aforementioned young players. Although their away form hasn’t been sparkling, all evidence points to Everton being the stronger of the two teams and it would be a surprise if Palace managed to do much other than put up a spirited fight. This column concurs with the market and thinks that Everton should take all three points. The best price on offer there is 7/5 from PaddyPower.