Preview: Everton vs. Crystal Palace

Preview: Everton vs. Crystal Palace

Everton will aim to keep their fleeting hopes of a top-four finish alive when they welcome Crystal Palace to Goodison Park for Monday’s Premier League encounter.

The Toffees entered the international break on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup, while Palace managed to return to winning ways with a 1-0 triumph over West Bromwich Albion.

Carlo Ancelotti’s credentials in the Champions League are unparalleled, but the 61-year-old has seen his side’s hopes of a top-four finish diminish after a spate of inconsistent results in the top flight.

Before succumbing to defeat at the hands of Man City in the FA Cup, Everton suffered a painful home loss to Burnley after being swept aside by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, so Ancelotti would certainly have been grateful for the international break as he looks to reassess his faltering side’s situation.

Everton are still in with a shot of breaking into the top four, but at the time of writing, they are five points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea before they face West Bromwich Albion on Saturday lunchtime, although ninth-placed Arsenal are four points behind the Toffees, who cannot be usurped before they take to the pitch on Monday.

However, Monday’s hosts have struggled to produce the goods on their own patch recently, as five of Everton’s last seven home games in the league have ended in defeat, while their only victory in that run was a narrow 1-0 success over Southampton on March 1.

An increasingly growing absentee list is hardly an ideal situation for Ancelotti to have to work around as well, but with the prospect of influential playmaker James Rodriguez returning to action this week, the strike partnership of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin will hope to receive first-class service from the Colombian against Palace’s leaky defence.

The ever-reliable Luka Milivojevic once again demonstrated his prowess from 12 yards to hand Crystal Palace a much-needed victory over relegation-threatened West Brom on March 13, as his 37th-minute penalty ensured that Roy Hodgson’s side would take the spoils in a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park.

The Eagles had only taken two points from a possible nine in fixtures with Fulham, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur before that, but with only one defeat from their last five in the Premier League, Hodgson’s side have done well to silence any whispers of a relegation dogfight.

Palace are not entirely safe just yet, but an 11-point chasm currently separates them from the drop zone with nine games left to play, although fixtures with Chelsea, Leicester City, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool could spell danger for the Eagles if they fail to pick up points elsewhere.

Furthermore, Hodgson’s side have only managed to win two of their last eight away matches and have only kept one clean sheet on the road all season – which came in a goalless stalemate with Arsenal in January – and their recent record against Everton would not exactly inspire confidence within the ranks.

Indeed, the Toffees have won six and drawn six of their last 12 Premier League meetings with Palace – including a 2-1 triumph at Selhurst Park back in September – and the Eagles’ most recent victory over their upcoming opponents was back in September 2014.

Everton Premier League form:
Everton form (all competitions):
Crystal Palace Premier League form:

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