Games seem to be coming thick and fast now the season has started, our trip to Selhurst Park marks our 5th game in 13 days and so far so good. However, in Crystal Palace, Everton will be facing another side brimming with confidence as they dispatched Manchester United with relative simplicity last week at Old Trafford with Zaha being the pick of the bunch. Palace’s league form looks similar to Everton’s with both teams sitting pretty on 6 points, both scoring goals and both looking much more balanced than the tail end of last season. One thing to mention, however, is that Everton played Fleetwood in a midweek cup fixture, whereas Palace has had the week off after exiting the league cup to Bournemouth last week.
Like always, match previews will be penned and uploaded to the site shortly, so i’ll get on with my business.
This week, I have spoken with Johnny (@jwgribbin_) an adopted scouser and Palace season ticket holder.
How do you rate your chances in the Premier League this season?
It’s always hard to say with palace. You never know what you’re going to get, we never seem to have real consistency. We’re either winning 4 in a row or losing 7 in a row like at the back end of last season! I’d like to see us be in a comfortable position by the new year and then really try to push on. And with the squad we’re building and with some key players still to return I don’t see why we should be settling for a mid table finish. We have real quality this year that we need to take advantage of
Is there a particular target set to the team this season? possibly European qualification?
Some sort of European qualification is always the dream for fans but in reality it’s never looked likely since we’ve been in the league. It would seem that anything above 18th is good enough for the board so we continue to receive the huge sums of money that come with being a premier league team. Since our promotion back to the premier league in 2013 we’ve only finished in the top 10 once and that was in the 2014/15 season. So from my point of view I’d like to see the club really push on this year to try and claim a top half finish
How do you rate your summer business so far? What else are Palace looking for?
We’ve completely changed our transfer approach this season targeting young players to try and bring down the average age of the squad. The signing of Eberechi Eze from QPR is probably our most notable deal so far. And he’s shown glimpses of his class coming off the bench and playing on the left side of midfield. Michy Batshuayi returned on loan from Chelsea and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make his first start this weekend, he was a real success last time and I expect him to score the goals that we desperately need again. We also signed Nathan Ferguson a young full back from West Brom but he underwent serious surgery earlier this year that will keep him out for some time yet. In terms of what else we want it still seems to be attackers. With the rumours suggesting it’s between Rhian Brewster at Liverpool or Said Benrahma at Brentford. I would personally prefer the latter and I’d also like to see a young centre back come in. But so far I’ve been very impressed with the business we’ve done and hope it continues!
I have to mention Wilfried Zaha, where will he be playing his football for the rest of the season? He was given the captains armband on Saturday vs Manchester United – was that a last plea from Roy to help him stay?
We saw Wilf back to his best at Old Trafford last weekend. And he now has 3 goals in 2 games this season. Some fans see it as him ‘playing for a move’ which could be true compared to his form at the back end of last season. It’s unclear how much we’re asking for him this summer but we know in past windows it’s been as much as £70 million. We’re in the same position as every transfer window though, he’s publicly made it very clear that he wants to go, but we don’t have to sell him. Our squad is in a very good place now and it would take a very big offer for the club to even consider letting him go. I still don’t see what club would pay the money we’re asking for but his agent will be working overtime to find one!
What are Crystal Palace’s main strengths? Where can you cause Everton the most damage?
Playing 4-4-2 certainly seems to have got the best out of our players so far, giving us real balance over the pitch. We look solid at the back, throughout the midfield and a threat on the counter attack. We have real versatility with our attacking players as they can all rotate effectively, for example you’ll often see the likes of Zaha and Ayew leaving the central areas and appearing wide and this season we’ve seen Schlupp and Townsend get into more advanced positions coming off the line. If we get them all on the same page again I’d like to think we can cause you problems
Where are you weakest? Where can Everton win the game?
Scoring goals has been a big problem for a long time now. Last season we finished on 31 goals scored. Second lowest to Norwich who scored 26 and finished bottom of the league. We’ve seen it again this season with several good chances wasted in our opening 2 games of the season. But also you have a lot of exciting players going forward and it’s hard not to worry about Joel Ward at right back against anyone with real pace. Tyrick Mitchell has come in to the team this season from the academy and for the most part done very well at left back but it’s another game where he will really be tested on what will only be his 6th premier league appearance
Who is the danger man Everton should be most wary of this weekend?
It has to be Zaha. Last weekend he was back to his very best. He also captained the side for the very first time and he really seemed to cherish the role. He’s been given a lot more freedom this season playing through the middle as a striker with Jordan Ayew and he’s showing real centre forward qualities, whether it’s his hold up play, taking players on and this season most importantly scoring goals. If we can continue to provide him with the right service he’ll cause any defender in the league problems
What Everton player do you wish you could sign for Crystal Palace?
At palace we have an obsession with certain players. We’d watch them and say he’s a ‘palace player’ and it normally involves a strong flying winger so I’d have to say Richarlison. He’s always caused us problems and I don’t think he gets enough credit for the work he does for the team off the ball from any other fan base outside of Everton’s. He’s a player who fans love as he’ll always get you off your seat and you’ll always feel like he can make something happen when he has the ball
What is your opinion of Roy Hodgson?
For the most part I’ve always been critical after being left frustrated by many performances. It feels like he’s only here now as the club want a safe pair of hands to guide us through another premier league season, until we have to appoint a new manager. (as I expect him to retire at the end of this season) I have a lot of respect for him, you couldn’t meet a nicer man and he’s done the best he can do for the club. But after several seasons I believe it’s fair for the fans who pay money to watch palace to demand and expect more. Whether it’s how the side is set up, the lack of in game changes with substitutes or the lack of giving younger players a chance instead of his usual starters who’ve remained in the starting 11 despite numerous poor performances.
What is your opinion of Carlo Ancelotti?
It’s always hard for ‘super managers’ as they all get the same comment about how they only have success due to the money they’ve had to spend at previous clubs. Which is why I respect him for taking the Everton job. It was always going to be tough when he first joined but now on the back of his first pre season and transfer window at the club you can see the quality and class he brings. As well as his pull, attracting players like James Rodriguez and Allan to the premier league. The change in style has been drastic and he’s also not been scared to give young players such as Gordon and Branthwwaite a real chance in the first team. I believe if he stays for a long amount of time he’ll bring real success to Everton
How do you see this match panning out, and what will the final score be?
I think the game is set up perfectly with both of us winning our opening two games of the season. And I believe we’ll both be each others toughest test of the season so far. I think we’ll see something similar to our game last week where we were happy to sit back, inviting pressure and waiting to counter. But with the quality you’ve added and the way they’ve settled in it’s certainly going to be tough. I reckon we’ll see some goals and I’m going to predict a 2-2 draw!
Thanks to Johnny for participating, please like and share!