Everton’s defence set for aerial bombardment test
Despite a 1-0 loss to Bournemouth last weekend, Everton still boast the second best defensive record in the division behind Tottenham Hotspur, having conceded just 4 goals in their opening 6 matches. This is a marked improvement from last season, where some porous defending ultimately cost Roberto Martinez his job.
Crystal Palace are the visitors to Goodison Park on Friday, with the Eagles now having secured three successive victories in the league, after coming from 2 goals down to defeat Sunderland in Gameweek 6.
Goal projections – Everton 1.86 Crystal Palace 0.99
Team news & predicted starting line-ups for Everton v Crystal Palace
Both sides are using width to good effect this season, so expect to see some intricate wing-play on show again this Friday.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman has toyed with a 3-man defence on occasions but both sides are expected to opt for a 4-2-3-1 this time around.
Everton fantasy player to watch
Romelu Lukaku is a real handful and an absolute nightmare for defenders, who are up against him.
The Belgium International seems to have been around for ages but is still only 23 years old and he will be keen to get himself back among the goals again, after drawing a blank against the Cherries last weekend.
Everton team news
Koeman will have to do without Leighton Baines, who won’t be risked, as he struggles to overcome a thigh injury.
The Everton boss is also short of numbers in midfield, with Muhamed Besic, Darron Gibson and James McCarthy all currently side-lined.
Predicted starting line-up for Everton
Crystal Palace fantasy player to watch
Christian Benteke returns to Merseyside for this first time since his departure from Liverpool. Palace boss Alan Pardew has certainly signaled his intention to get the most out of the big Belgian striker, with WhoScored statistics indicating that the Eagles have attempted more crosses than any other side this season.
Benteke is competing in 14.3 aerial duels per game , a big spike from his days at Anfield.
Crystal Palace team news
Andros Townsend and Jason Puncheon will be swinging in the majority of crosses but Palace are sweating on the fitness of Wilfried Zaha, who has a hamstring strain.
The absence of Scott Dann will be felt at the back, while Loic Remy and Pape Souare are long-term absentees.
Predicted starting line-up for Crystal Palace
It’s the battle of the Belgium strikers – will Lukaka be in top-form again or will Benteke’s physical presence prove too much for the Everton defence ?