Five Things We Learnt: Everton 07/12/2015

Written by Robert Sutherland

Monday saw Crystal Palace win a hard-fought, worthy point against a strident and energetic Everton side. Robert Sutherland takes a look at what we learnt from the result and the performance. 

1. Palace's football isn't always pretty, but it's effectivePardew Clap 1

Everton play an expansive style - pivotal on Romelu Lukaku's ability to bring others into play and to drive forward himself. They surround him with technically astute players capable of creating openings. What should an opponent do against such a side?

The simple suggestion would be to go toe-to-toe with them, to play them at their own game. But that comes with greater risk of being caught out and being overexposed. The truth is that Palace don't yet have the talent pool available to Roberto Martinez. And so a more rudimentary system is needed.

Palace's tactics away from home are ready-made, even if they aren't always pretty to watch. We have all the qualities needed to be a competitive away side - defensive resilience, pace-powerful wings and a rigid spine. Those strengths shone through yesterday - in all their ugly glory.

2. Damien Delaney is one of the best defenders in Palace's history

Is that a crazy statement? Perhaps. But there's a great deal of truth to it. He's a leader, an example to others, and crucially one of the most consistent, trustworthy players in our side.

Delaney helped guide Palace to promotion - and was written off. He helped guide us to safety - and was written off. He helped guide us to one of the highest finishes in the club's history - and was written off. Each and every season, people want to replace him. And each season, he proves them wrong.

For a player who signed for the club for free on a short-term deal, few could have imagined the journey he's had with Palace. He's a remarkable player and ranks as one of our best.

3. Everton are a yardstick for where we want to be...

...and how far we've come - and Monday's result is indicative of just how much we've progressed. Palace gave it a good go at Goodison Park - with a little more vigilance from the officials and a little more clinical finishing - we might even have won. 

There will be areas we can improve on. We struggled at times to keep possession, and our misplaced passes were a frustrating element of the match - but when it comes to doing the basics right, Palace are spot on. And if we keep doing those - and building the side to do the rest better - then the foundations are there for Palace to keep competing. 

4. Wickham is getting sharper - goals will come

You can see a progression in Connor Wickham's performances from his return to the side a few weeks ago to the display on Monday - the former Sunderland striker is showing some of that promise that Palace paid so handsomely for. 

Wickham did a remarkable job of holding the ball up, bringing others into play, and generally making a nuisance of himself against a very good Everton defence. Had it not been for a decent Tim Howard save - one which the goalkeeper would probably admit he knew little about - we might have seen him score his first goal for the side. 

While it is frustrating that he hasn't scored yet, the signs are that goals will come. And while they don't, so long as he gives others around him the presence and physicality to bring them into play, he'll keep getting the credit he deserves. 

5. Let's not be too critical of our players

There's an element of criticism that always follows a result like this one - nitpicking of performances where everyone seeks the perfect performance from every player - and some of that is incredibly harsh. I'm guilty of it too - with Wayne Hennessey for example - and I'll admit I need to be a bit more fair. 

A look at the forums and social media gives a broad spectrum of critique. Pape Souare is one player being picked out for mistakes - having had an incredibly tough match against a very good opponent in Gerard Deulofeu - for not closing the winger down prior to their equaliser being scored. Jordon Mutch - who actually did a very good job of providing an outlet from Everton's pressure - is criticised for being Jordon Mutch. Connor Wickham is criticised for not scoring. Yannick Bolasie for not crossing. Jason Puncheon for not passing. 

All of these players - each and every one - made a positive contribution to the outcome of the match. For all the criticism - it's worth remembering that they all played their part in the draw. You won't get the perfect performance from every player in every match - it's completely unrealistic. Look at what the players did right and you'll see they outweigh the things they did wrong.