Verdict: Everton win
Best Odds: 11/10
Two sides who have shocked many with their start to the New Year, Crystal Palace will welcome a new-look Everton to Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.
Starting with the hosts, while a torrid end to last year’s interrupted campaign might have started to worry many around Selhurst Park, few across the Premier League expected Crystal Palace’s recent improvements. Along with marking their return to action with a 1-0 win against Southampton in South London a fortnight ago, Roy Hodgson’s men certainly laid down a clinical marker on their travels last weekend. Largely outplaying Manchester United at Old Trafford, the former England boss landed a deserved 3-1 romp away at the former champions and they’re one of just five teams who can boast a 100% start to proceedings. Picking up back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since making a return from football’s enforced break back in June, the Eagles also have one attacking talisman who finds himself in the midst of a real purple patch. Spearheading Palace’s charge against his former employers last week, new skipper Wilfried Zaha bagged a brace at Old Trafford and has already recorded three top-flight strikes as we inch closer to October.
Palace have confirmed that Christian Benteke has recovered from a foot injury and could feature this weekend.
However, the Eagles will still be without the likes of Gary Cahill, James Tomkins, Patrick van Aanholt and Nathan Ferguson.
As for the visitors, eventually putting five past Fleetwood on EFL Cup duties in midweek, Everton have the feel of a side in the midst of a real resurge. Coming from behind last weekend against Premier League returners West Brom at Goodison, Carlo Ancelotti’s high-flyers landed a 5-2 victory on home soil and much like Saturday’s hosts, the Blues have also recorded back-to-back top-flight victories since opening the New Year. Really laying down a marker as they marked their return to action with a shock 1-0 win away at Tottenham a fortnight ago, it is no secret that the former Napoli boss has his sights firmly set on guiding Everton back to the European stage this time around. Bagging five strikes in back-to-back appearances and with a new-found confidence around Goodison, Ancelotti will be calling on a red-hot Dominic Calvert-Lewin to lead their charge in the capital. Along with bagging the winner away at Spurs earlier in the month, the former Sheffield United starlet became the first Blues player since Wayne Rooney vs West Ham in November 2017 to record a top-flight hat-trick.
Aside from Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite who have both been ruled out, Carlo Ancelotti has a full squad to chose from in South London.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two sides last faced off back in February, Everton picked up a 3-1 victory at Goodison Park.
- In fact, the Blues are unbeaten in all 11 of their previous meetings against Crystal Palace, a run that stems back to 2014.
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin became the first Everton player since Wayne Rooney in 2017 to bag a Premier League hat-trick last weekend.
- Including a brace at Old Trafford last weekend, Wilfried Zaha has recorded three goals in his opening two Premier League appearances.
- Crystal Palace have recorded back-to-back top-flight victories for the first time since the restart.
While Crystal Palace might have managed to shock many with their stunning display against Manchester United on the road last weekend, they could be in for a tricky test against another side who have landed back-to-back victories. In the midst of what has been a stunning resurge and with the likes of James Rodgriguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin spearheading a free-scoring Everton, Carlo Ancelotti’s side will also be boosted by what is a dominant unbeaten run against the Eagles. Including a 3-1 win when the two sides faced off back in February, the Blues are unbeaten against Saturday’s hosts since 2014 and don’t be surprised to see Everton extend on their purple patch this weekend.
Verdict: Everton win
Best Odds: 11/10
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