EVERTON travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Sunday. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) takes a closer look at what's expected to be an intriguing encounter.
Crystal Palace vs Everton | Sunday 12th December 2021, 16:30 | Sky Sports
The pressure eased somewhat on Rafa Benitez following Everton’s late 2-1 win over Arsenal. Demarai Gray’s stunning strike sealed the Toffees all three points in a game that saw Richarlison have two disallowed for marginal offsides.
Now they head to the capital to face a Crystal Palace side who are winless in their last four, losing three on the bounce – they’d only lost two in their first 12 games under Patrick Vieira.
However, just one of Palace’s defeats has come here at Selhurst Park, where they have a record of W2, D4, L1. Their problem has been putting sides to bed and picking up three points after failing to take chances.
So, what should we expect from the final game of this Premier League weekend?
The stats point to a lot of similarities between the two sides. Just two places and two points separate them in the league table – a home win would see Palace leapfrog the Toffees.
When it comes to attacking output both sides have an expected goals for around the same figure – Everton 20.4xGF and Palace 20.1xGF.
From those figures, both teams concede around 12 shots per game. But it’s the Toffees who have more shots per 90 (12.3) compared to Palace’s 10.9, so it’s Benitez side who could ask more questions, depending on how he sets them up.
Now, this is where it gets interesting if you like the numbers. From their 20xGF, both sides have netted 19 goals, which is where you’d probably expect them to be.
But from the 19 goals scored in games, both sides are stronger in the second half. Palace and Everton have struck 14 times after half-time, scoring 74% of their goals in the second 45.
There have been just 12 goals scored at Selhurst Park in the Premier League this season, with four first-half goals and eight in the second half, which equates to 67% of goals after the break.
That gives us angles to attack in a couple of markets. I’m happy to take the 5/4 (Paddy Power) on the second half being the stage of the game that sees the most goals given the tendency from both sides to leave the entertainment until late.
Some of the options here are a draw at half-time at EVS with Bet365. Paddy Power has a draw and under 2.5 goals at half-time at 10/11. That doesn’t look bad with it giving us 0-0 and 1-1 for the half-time score, with the former being a frontrunner.
While that 0-0 half-time score is 6/4 with Paddy Power, which has landed in four of six Palace first halves at Selhurst Park. But on the basis that these two sides score plenty of goals in the second half, I’ll take that for the highest-scoring half.
Now the second bet I’ve found is at 15/8 for something that has landed in nine of 11 games this player has featured for Everton.
With the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, it’s meant Richarlison ploughs a lone furrow and it’s given Abdoulaye Doucouré more freedom to get into attacking positions. And from his time at Watford, we know he’s not afraid to shoot.
In the league this season, Doucouré has had 20 shots with six of those being on target. He’s averaging just shy of two shots per game but he’s had at least two in nine of his 11 starts for the Toffees.
He’s had two shots in his last six games, including Man Utd away and the 4-1 defeat in the Merseyside derby. He had a shot on target in his first four games of the season, showing that he’s capable of hitting the target rather than lashing at an effort.
The 28-year-old got away two efforts as they piled on the pressure against Arsenal. He did force Aaron Ramsdale into a late save, although his shot lacked power from the angle he struck it from.
So, here’s a bet that’s won in 82% of games that Doucouré has started, yet Ladbrokes have it at 15/8 – an implied probability of just under 35%. Most other firms seem to have him around the 10/11 or EVS mark as well, just adding to the reasons to like this bet.
I did look at cards, particularly under 3.5 cards at 5/6 on Bet365. Andy Madley is in charge and he’s probably the most easy-going referee in the Premier League. He’s officiated 10 domestic games, showing 18 yellows and two reds.
He’s shown three cards or fewer in seven of those 10 (70%), while he’s not shown a card in three domestic games, as well as a World Cup qualifier involving Latvia and the Netherlands.
It completely put me off cards in truth. After Monday night’s shenanigans, whoever was in charge will probably put Ben Godfrey on a tight leash (if he starts). So, the 4/1 for him to see a card did look pretty chunky.
Godfrey has picked up three cards this season, including two in his last three games. I’d be more inclined to back it if he started at full-back. He was at left-back v Arsenal on Monday and right-back at Aston Villa earlier in the season, when picking up two of his cards.
The other man I considered for a card is Andros Townsend. He returns to his former club and will have to perform some defensive duties, like tracking back, as Everton sit in their shape.
There’s some 13/2 floating around on Bet365, and given he’s had two bookings in his last three didn’t look too bad. He doesn’t come across as a player to lose his head too often, but there are a few games this season where he’s been fouled 3+ times, so he could get riled if decisions don’t go his way – he’s the sixth most-fouled player in the league!
It’s worth mentioning that Crystal Palace have the first, 11th and 16th on the most-fouled player's list. Wilfried Zaha tops it, drawing 56 fouls. While Jordan Ayew has been fouled 29 times and Conor Gallagher 27 times. Look out for their direct opponents.
But given it’s Madley, I might wait to get involved in the cards market. Instead, I’ll leave these two bets for my pre-match staking plan.