Everton will take on Alan Pardew’s high-flying Crystal Palace in a Friday night Premier League encounter. The Toffees had an excellent start to life under Ronald Koeman but it did not last too long as the Blue half of Merseyside suffered two back to back defeats last week, first a 2-0 loss to Norwich City in the League Cup and then a 1-0 loss to Bournemouth in the Premier League.
Alan Pardew’s boys are in a red hot form right now having collected 10 points from their last four Premier League fixtures and sit 7th on the table, 2 places and 3 points behind Everton but the momentum is with them and we can never underestimate an Alan Pardew team when they are in form.
Here are three key battles that could potentially decide the outcome of the game.
Idrissa Gueye Vs Joe Ledley
What a success story Idrissa Gueye has been at Everton since he moved to Goodison Park from Aston Villa this summer. With his 88.4% passing accuracy, 5.7 tackles, 1 interception and 0.7 clearances per game, he has offered a lot to the Everton midfield. Everton are a solid midfield unit thanks to him now but the Senegalese will have a tough battle against Welsh midfielder Joe Ledley who is also enjoying fine form lately.
Ledley’s passing accuracy has been 88.4% this season and he has made an average 3.5 interceptions, 1.5 tackles and 1.3 clearances every game. Both midfielders will be looking to control the tempo of the game and the winner of this battle might very well decide the winner of the game.
Romelu Lukaku Vs James Tomkins
Everton are highly reliant on Romelu Lukaku for the goals and the Belgian rarely lets them down. With four Premier League goals already this season under his belt, the Belgian will be looking to tear apart Crystal Palace’s defence.
The Eagles will miss their key defender and club captain Scott Dann against the Toffees and stopping Lukaku will be a big ask from Alan Pardew’s side. Summer signing James Tomkins has done a decent job this season but Lukaku will be a real test for the former West Ham defender.
Christian Benteke Vs Ashley Williams
While Lukaku looks to tear apart Crystal Palace defence, his compatriot Benteke will be a tricky customer to deal with for the Everton defenders. Crystal Palace’s club record signing, Benteke, has made an immediate impact at Selhurst Park after his big money transfer. He has managed to get on the scoresheet just twice from four games but his presence and aerial ability give a huge plus to the Eagles’ attack.
With 8.3 aerials won every game, Benteke is the reason why Crystal Palace are scoring so many goals lately. However, he won’t have a walk in the park against Everton as Ashley Williams, with his immense experience and reading of the game, can potentially keep the Belgian silent. The battle between Benteke and Williams will be one to look forward to.
Stats via Whoscored.com