Everton vs Crystal Palace – The Preview

Have you ever had a pint of wine and done something stupid? Hopefully the Telegraph weren’t filming you do it.

What a week for the sport. Even the fume arising from an insipid Everton defeat (we’ll get to it) dissipated as English football was rocked by the investigation into corruption. Two jobs have been lost because of it already, one the England manager’s, and there’s even more to come.

The only truly surprising revelation would be if Roberto Martinez didn’t take a bung at any point in the last two years.

Opinion is quite polarised on the topic of the sting – one side insisting that it shows the press doing what they should do, uncovering dodgy dealings and asking important questions. The other, wearied by years of mostly tabloid press immorally haranguing people who (mostly) didn’t deserve it, claimed it was a witch-hunt. I believe the former – I mean, how can a ten-month investigation that began with reporters receiving credible information about illegal activity just be passed off as ‘the media’ (which covers thousands of press, broadcast, magazine and online outlets) gunning for Sam Allardyce? But let’s not get bogged down in this debate. Let’s focus on Everton’s dismal defeat on the south coast.

….you sure you wouldn’t rather read about the Telegraph?

Not much of a match report this, but we were terrible – simple as that. Oviedo is a weak link, Barry clearly wasn’t fully fit and Gueye was left to pick up the pieces, Bolasie, Barkley and Lukaku all struggled and Gerard Deulofeu managed to tire himself out getting off the bench. It was all a bit of a mess. Junior Stanislas scored against us…again. Artur Boruc of course made a great save and will now go on a run of costly errors against everyone else. Jack Wilshere, rather than crumpling to the turf under a well-timed but necessarily brutal Gueye tackle, left the field victorious. Bournemouth were quite simply better, with Jordan Ibe being made to look good by the utter weak link that is Bryan Oviedo. The impotence was the worst part – is this not the new Everton, solid at the back but with options up front? Perhaps it’s just a blip. The defeat did reiterate the point that depth is a vital characteristic in any side challenging at the top, and we don’t have it. When we’re chasing a game and the likes of Enner Valencia and Tom Cleverley are the impact subs, making changes is hardly going to inspire confidence.

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But we move on. Three defeats in a row leading into a game away to Manchester City would be pretty disastrous, so let’s get back on the horse, Blues. Leading us into the Palace preview this week is Michael De Asha:

“A lot has changed in the past week. I think most of us were probably waiting for the bubble to burst, but I’m not sure how many of us saw it bursting at the hands of Norwich and Bournemouth. It was a pretty Everton way of halting any sense of momentum that had been building, so maybe we should have seen it coming then ay? So it’s Crystal Palace next, which means that one English football’s most unique spectacles will be making his way to Goodison.

Ever wondered what would happen if you merged the personalities of Alan Partridge and Eddie Hearn? Meet Alan Pardew. Whether he’s cringely dancing on the sidelines, dishing out fascist salutes to the crowd, or just taking credit for absolutely anything positive about the football club he is employed at, it’s always interesting with Pards. He could very well be one sacking away from the end of his Premier League shelf life, so appreciate the berk while he’s here, as you’ll miss him when he’s gone. He’s a bit like Mourinho in that respect, just without the major achievements…

Enough about Pards anyway, onto Everton. If someone had said that we’d only lose 1 of our first 7 games, going into the October internationals with 16 points, I’d have taken that. Beating this lot would give us a solid platform to build upon for the rest of the season, importantly meaning that we’re already looking up rather than down (as was the case for the previous two years). So come on Everton, do that good football thing you’re capable of.”

Cheers for that, Brimful. Now it’s my turn to launch a tirade at the man we all hope the Telegraph are planning an article about, even if it’s just to label him a colossal twat.

Alan Pardew. You smarmy, obnoxious cringe factory. You with your mouth like Wookey Hole. Your attitude like an American golf fan. Your ego that would make Freud throw his couch at you. If you and Donald Trump were put in a room together the toxic mix of idiocy and pure, uninhibited arrogance would surely cause the Earth to implode. Fuck this. Smash them Everton. Pummel them into the ground, and as they stagger from the pitch dazed by the nature of the obliteration, tell that dancing twatbadger he had it coming.

Yeah, so I don’t like Pardew much. Palace are alright though. They’ve recovered from the tourist attitude they had in their first season back in the top flight, overcome the cringey superfan obsession and become a nice, solid side…who we can’t beat. What is it with that? One win in the last six meetings. Two 3-2 defeats in the last three Goodison encounters. Every time we’re lulled by the fact they offer nothing and get sucker-punched.

Well, this lot offer nothing. But, after picking up as many wins in their last three games as in the 25 preceding them, they’re on a high. We won’t be saved by it being very, very wind tonight. They have the momentum, but we have the quality.

All we need now is 'hear no evil' to complete the set

All we need now is ‘hear no evil’ to complete the set

Steve Mandanda in net. He hasn’t done anything mad yet, which surely means he’s overdue. Good keeper on his day, mind, despite Sunderland scoring twice past him. Ward, Tomkins, Delaney and Kelly in the most uninspiring defensive line since…Bournemouth last week. That went well. Scott Dann being injured is a boost, as he’s their top scorer as well as their best centre back. If nothing else sums up how Palace operate, that’s it. Joe Ledley, who is slowly turning into a ball of fluff, partners McArthur in the midfield. Then there’s a pick of Zaha, Cabaye, Puncheon and Townsend in the more attacking midfield roles, a nice mix of running the ball into nowhere and sending crosses in at no-one. Or, in this case, Liverpool grock du jour of 2015 Christian Benteke.

This week on talentless bint who’s destined to score against us – I’m inclined to say Delaney, though keep an eye on Connor Wickham.

Everton then. Dare we make changes? Can we bin Oviedo? I mean, we’ve got Gallow-oh, right. At least there’s Garbu-er, never mind. Stekelenburg, Coleman, Williams, Jagielka and *insert player Palace will ping long balls at all night here*. Gueye and Barry hopefully, though Cleverley will instil his brand of inoffensive yet non-effective buzzing about if the latter is unfit. Bolasie, Barkley, Mirallas in front. Yes, them. What else is there? Gerard Deulofeu is inconsistent at the best of times, but when he looks knackered after tying his laces he’s not a viable option to start. Then there’s what, Arouna Kone? He’s more pariah than Messiah. Enner Valencia would mean two up front and is an interesting option, though when the West Ham Comedy Roadshow were pleased to see him gone, that sets alarm bells off. We don’t really have that many options, so Barkley and Bolasie need to release the ball quicker, Mirallas needs to cut inside whenever he can and make himself a focal point of attacks as Barkley can’t do it every time, and Lukaku has to be ready to get involved in a tussle or two. Simple enough then. I’ll just send my application for the England manager’s job now. Should be a nice money-spinner. In any case, hopefully Bolasie is up for getting one over on his former club after a nice little dig at them, claiming he’s better off playing “more expansive football” with Everton.

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Enough of the defeats now Everton. You’ve given us a dose of reality, you’ve made the “Nothing will be the same” tagline look daft, but now it’s time to arrest what could be the start of a run of poor form and turn it on its head. This lot aren’t special and it’s about time they realised it.

If Pardew looks miserable and spends the hours after the game blaming the referee, the pitch, the slight breeze, the alignment of the stars or the geopolitical discord surrounding the situation in Syria for a crushing defeat, we’ve done well. Make it so Everton.

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