Apologies for this being a rush job. Long story. It’s Sheffield Wednesday’s fault.

Where are we then? Of course. Everton are back in Europe, slaying not giants but still tough bastards. Basically we’re slapping nightclub bouncers and getting away with it. I’ll make up for this monstrosity of a preview with a big gushing piece on how Thursday made me realise how happy I am with Everton, despite it being a bit short of a great performance. Let’s be fair though. Silky football, ruthless finishing and stoic defending all combined means a team that can challenge at the very top. Wolfsburg are no mugs. Ivica Olic and Kevin de Bruyne were forced out wide, suppressed and given no clear chances, and they were openly frustrated about that. It was a victory for John Stones. Viva Stonesy.


Anyway, let’s kick on because we’re on the verge of kick off in the boring old Premier League, against Crystal Palace. Last time they were at Goodison we basically threw away Champions League football, and because Cameron Jerome scored we deserve it. It’s a crime in the Premier League, doing that. But we’re Everton. We concede against the top mongs. That’s what we do. Neil Warnock’s back in the top flight with his own brand of mardy Yorkshire management. Jason Puncheon properly hated him so that’s great fun on the training ground.

They drew 0-0 against Burnley last week, which is also a bit criminal, but Julian Speroni made a magic save from Arfield’s penalty and he’ll be tough to break today you’d think. Mariappa, Delaney, Dann and Ward is a defence which excels in crunching people, especially with Jedinak and McArthur in front. Joe Ledley’s an option too, so with the likes of Puncheon and Zaha they’ve got some tidy players in midfield. Their attack is a selection of players that really shouldn’t be in the Premier League any more, but inexplicably are. Cling-ons include Campbell, Chamakh and Kevin Doyle. Andy Johnson’s back at Palace. If they want 2005 nostalgia we’ll trounce them and finish 4th again if they like. Dwight Gayle did that magic thing to Liverpool at the back end of last season so he’s aces in our book. Decent side. Lacked any sort of clinical nature this season though and have just two points. Not impressive points either. Losing Tony Pulis right on the cusp of the new season was a blow, but honestly I think there are enough teams worse than them to keep Palace up. Don’t go on about those lids in the corner of Selhurst Park though. Packing all the atmosphere in one tiny corner because the soused muppets are waving that flag doesn’t impress me. Come to Goodison, go a goal down and make some noise then. Dare ya.

James Vaughan v Crystal Palace

It’d be quite nice to have another unchanged team, just to distance ourselves from the Moyes era even more, but Lukaku looked knackered on Thursday and Aiden McGeady ran out of ideas in the second half, so perhaps players may replace them. Howard, Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines. Any objections? Baines was magnificent on Thursday. Barry and McCarthy. It was great to see Darron Gibson return to the Goodison field, even if he’s forgotten how to pass. Mirallas is just lethal, which at the moment is making him one of our better players, and he and Naismith could wreak havoc today. McGeady is a very Osman player isn’t he. Moments of magic interspersed with pure frustration. I heard shouts of “hopeless” in the Top Balcony, but that’s classic us. We love to make a drama. Eto’o is exceptional. What a player. Fighting off two defenders and threading it out to Naismith was gold. Spinning off his man to give himself acres of space for a cross in the penalty area that didn’t reach him was the work of an artist. It’s not just his experience that makes the free transfer (!!!!) a valuable asset. He will do something today because Lukaku can’t make it through ninety minutes. His decision-making was totally off in midweek. Holding the ball is something he didn’t seem willing to do. But Lukaku has goals in him. There’s just a feeling.

And I’ve got a feeling we’ll win again today. Three win on the bounce and we’ll all feel better about going into next week. Who have we got again? Oh yeah. Swansea in the Capital One Cup isn’t it. A good run of form and we’re in here. Let’s not be like Alex Salmond, slouched at home with a glass of scotch wondering what might have been. Let’s use this momentum. Come on Everton! I’ve got a good feeling about this…

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