Everton need winning start to season run-in

Everton (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) /

After what has seemed another interminable international break, Everton return to Premier League action against Crystal Palace on Monday.

Following three consecutive defeats including two in the Premier League to Chelsea and then Burnley, Everton obviously really need a victory on Easter Monday to get their quest for Europe back on track.

Despite both being unable to play for England Under-21s, Carlo Ancelotti said both Tom Davies and Ben Godfrey are fit an available for selection.

So too is James Rodriguez back after his prolonged break and enforced rehabilitation. Even more surprisingly Ancelotti also said that Jean-Philippe Gbamin might also be finally fit, although I’m sure he won’t be playing on Monday.

This international break hasn’t resulted in any fresh injury problems thankfully and so other than Abdoulaye Doucoure and almost forgotten long-term casualty Fabian Delph, Ancelotti has pretty much a full squad of outfield players to pick from.

The manager’s only other major injury issue is goalkeeper Jordan Pickford who is also still unavailable and so perhaps the recently excellent Joao Virginia might continue in goal.

I don’t know what team Ancelotti will pick on Monday night but whoever and however he plays, the Toffees really need the three points on Monday as they’ve slipped adrift of their rivals for Europe with those losses at Chelsea and then most irritatingly, Burnley at Goodison Park.

That poor home form is what is threatening to undermine any hopes the Blues have of getting a Europa League finish never mind that elusive Champions League place, which Everton haven’t secured since that one season of qualifying back in 2004-05.

Although the Toffees did beat Southampton on 1st of March, that is their only league home win of this calender year. Before that the last home match that brought three points was back on 19th December against Arsenal.

In most other recent seasons Palace at home would be a game the majority of Blues fans would be confident of winning.

More from Prince Rupert's Tower

Not so this campaign and of course it’s been those sides that on paper anyway should be near enough home bankers, that Everton have failed against so badly.

Palace have had their usual up and down season, winning a few, losing more and resulting in a current position of twelfth in the Premier League with enough breathing room between them and the relegation places for some comfort.

The Londoners biggest threat remains of course Wilfried Zaha so often linked with a move to Goodison Park. But also the revitalised Christian Benteke who after a long struggle for form has found his goal-scoring touch again this season.

Palace are a solid, strong, awkward side and have that pace and power up front so it isn’t an easy one on paper to call and with the Blues home form I’m not feeling confident.

The Toffees won the first game between the teams this season at Selhurst Park with a gritty, hard fought 2-1 victory. That win was a foretaste of the sort of fine away results Everton have been managing this campaign.

Palace themselves have a decent away record and will be pretty confident travelling up to Merseyside on Monday that they can add to Everton’s home discomforts, given how many times the Toffees have slipped up at the grand old lady.

A win will put Everton fifth level on points with West Ham who play later on Monday night. Ensuring they do win will put that extra pressure on the Hammers and set the Blues up perfectly for a very winnable match away at Brighton a week later.