Crystal Palace, then. 10 played. 1 win against an abject Sunderland side. 0 draws. 9 defeats, the majority of them without ever looking like scoring a goal. Easy as, right?

Yeah f*cking right. Everton Aren’t We

Palace have no players you would call particularly dangerous, have failed to score six times already in this campaign and have the league’s leakiest defence, with 21 goals conceded. They’ve got the second-worst points tally after ten matches in Premier League history, and their record against us in the last 5 games is just as terrible (won 1, drawn 0, lost 4. Goals scored 5, goals conceded 14.) Defeat against us would be their eighth in a row.

It’s one of those where you look at it, conclude it’s a nailed on win, and do your sh*te drama impression; “….or is it?”. Part of me is being wary of a side that fights harder than any other in this league, and the other half’s screaming that they’re scrapping because they’re abysmal. The strongest side is the one holding up the rest of the league, after all. Why, why all the doubt?

James Vaughan v Crystal PalaceIt’s the Everton mindset. The reigns of Walker, Kendall (second and third time around), Royle, Smith and Moyes taught us to expect nothing and scrap for everything. That’s great when you’re at home to Man City, but away to the league’s bottom club? This is where the Martinez system works at its very best; when the first goal goes in, we’re looking for the second straight away. And so far only the genius of City’s front men has truly exploited that.

But it’s worth remembering a couple of things. For one, we haven’t played Crystal Palace since 2005 – you may remember a certain James Vaughan goal – and so form doesn’t mean as much as it would do against the likes of our previous opponents, Spurs, and the lot we face after Palace. And, when a side’s at its very lowest ebb, they have nothing to lose. The main worry is that we’ll face an opposition like West Brom when they took a point from Goodison in August, except much more hard-working.

And Spurs was a bit naff, wasn’t it? Barkley was good when he came on. Howard’s still the Beard to be Feared. But there’s nothing at all to be excited about. Yes, Spurs spent a ton of money. But when most of their creative talent’s on the bench, it’s not right to say we fought off all Spurs have to offer.

But it’s time to look on the bright side. Lukaku doesn’t have to worry about injury, AVB’s bizarre accusations or phone calls from Purple Aki any more, so he’ll be looking forward to bullying the league’s worst defence. Barkley will be back, for sure. Ossie ruined his chance of keeping his place in the side with his dropping back and failing to support Lukaku on Sunday – Ross will have to make sure he’s bombing forward a lot, and that shouldn’t be too tough. It could even be a sort of 4-3-3 with Mirallas charging forward and Stevie Pienaar dropping in to support the midfielders and particularly Leighton Baines, who has looked a bit constrained recently. Gerard Deulofeu will surely get a game. Steven Naismith and Nikica Jelavic will want to come off the bench and show what they’re made of.

Roberto MartínezLosing Arouna Kone has not caused anyone to have sleepless nights, and Roberto Martinez correctly said that there are options abound. Watch the Audience with Martinez if you haven’t already. The man is pure class. Seriously. I’m not into Moyes-bashing, but it’s like getting dumped by Vanessa Feltz and ending up with Kelly Brook. And only the poor sod in Feltz’s path will rue that one.

So, it’s the sh*te in a couple of weeks, but let’s jump this hurdle first. We shouldn’t expect the 4-0 that came from the last meeting with Crystal Palace, but it’s something to aim for. Sunday was devoid of excitement – so come on, Everton. Give us a day to remember.


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