Crystal Palace vs Everton: Eye On The Opposition (21/1/2017)

Written by Jack Pierce

Like a fool, I sat through Everton’s mauling of Manchester City last Sunday with a huge smile on my face. My Toffee Dad going crazy probably had something to do with it but it was the sight of the fans behind the Gwladys Street goal going absolutely bonkers when Tom Davies’ dinked finish ended the match as a contest and he dived into the crowd that had me grinning from ear to ear.

Having had the enthusiasm draining trip to Stratford on Saturday, Everton, and Davies in particular, helped cheer me up. That was until I remembered that it’s Everton who are next to the Pick n Mix that playing Palace has become.

If our performance of last Saturday is repeated and Everton get close to anywhere near where they were on Sunday afternoon, it could be another turgid and dark Saturday afternoon and evening for those supporting Palace.

I’ve got a plan to meet a mate in Croydon after the game but told him to be free from 4pm… just in case.

Everton will head to South London full of the joys of last Sunday and with expectations that they’ll see off a side in the awful form that we clearly are in. Their performance last Sunday wasn’t only impressive because of the end result but the way they went about their business. Yes, City created chances but with the players at their disposal, they always will. Everton rode their luck a bit but still came out deserved winners. It was without doubt their best performance of the season and with the likes of Mason Holgate, Davies, Ross Barkley and Ademola Lookman all having days to remember, the club’s approach to youth, be it their own or recruited, looks far healthier than ours does.

Davies is as good a place to start as any, especially given his uncle is Alan Whittle, a man who played for both Everton and Palace. The young midfielder has been one that Evertonians with ears to the ground have been excited to see for a while now. Impressive at both club and international junior levels, Davies has taken to top flight football like a duck to water. He wants the ball, he knows when to pass, when to join the attack from midfield and wants to get stuck in. He really is a talent and in an area of the squad in which Ronald Koeman has quite a lot of depth, performances like last Sunday’s will secure him a starting berth more often than not. I have nothing against Morgan Schneiderlin but it was fairly unusual, and pleasing, to see a new £20 million signing kept out of the side by an 18 year old academy product.

Ademola Lookman’s debut couldn’t have gone much better unless your name is John Stones. Five minutes into his Everton and Premier League career and he was presented with a golden opportunity to mark his arrival with a goal. He’d have been forgiven for putting the shot into the tenth row of The Gwladys given how nervous he could’ve been but he was going to take his chance, and calmly as you like too. Straight between the keeper’s legs and a scorer on an afternoon that will spoken about for a long time by the blue half of Merseyside. Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh, his Director of Football, put their money where their mouth is in regard to Lookman. A player that Palace were reportedly keen on, as recently as the summer just gone, may go on to prove that not getting the deal done when possible was a poor mistake to make.

The defeat to Leicester in the FA Cup was a blow. In a season in which Everton are already odds on to finish 7th, a cup run and a first piece of silverware since 1995 would’ve been a wonderful start for Koeman’s reign at Goodison Park. Unfortunately, such a defeat has blotted Everton’s season so far and a more consistent run until May would be a huge boost going into next season when the fruits of Koeman’s management and Farhad Moshiri’s money will be more evident.

There has been some disgruntled murmurings about Koeman and his start at Everton from some Toffees but what he and new owner, Moshiri, have planned for Everton isn’t going to happen overnight. Results like last weekend’s and their beating of Arsenal before Christmas would suggest they’re on the right path but more time and investment is required before the club can challenge what is looking like an established top six.

They’ve already added Schneiderlin and Lookman to the squad at a cost of over £30 million this month but the spending might not stop there. Between now and the end of the window, Koeman, like the majority of other top flight bosses, will be looking to see what’s about and whether the January-inflated prices would be worth paying depends on who the price tag is attached to.

In our three meetings with Everton at Selhurst since promotion, there’s been just the one goal and that happened after less than two minutes in 2015 when Romelu Lukaku bundled the ball in to decide that encounter.

The games haven’t been classics but right now, a god awful 0-0 might just be what Palace need.

Another loss and those Sam Allardyce-inspired pints of wine I suggested, jokingly upon his appointment, might be a good idea for the bars around the ground may become a must by the time Sunderland visit in February.

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