Everton 2.34 v Crystal Palace 3.65; The Draw 3.30
Saturday, 15:00

Big Sam must give Everton an identity

Everton may have built up enough of a buffer under Sam Allardyce to protect themselves from relegation, but there is little to suggest that his reign will prove to be a long one.
Brought in to get Everton out of trouble, Allardyce initially shored up the defence as he has done at so many struggling clubs. The trouble is at Everton that was never going to be enough. Ultimately, Allardyce must prove that he is capable of getting his team to play at least vaguely attractive, successful football, in which the side's attack is as important as the defence.
So far he's failing to find the balance. The tight defence that we saw in Allardyce's early games has been blown apart in recent thrashings away at Spurs and Arsenal. Everton are currently a team without an identity and Big Sam must find one quick, because there's enough talent in a squad that benefitted from a successful January transfer window, for Everton to be targeting seventh and a possible route into Europe.
Compared to most Premier League clubs, Everton's injury list is also relatively slight, though the players that are out are suffering with long-term issues. Leighton Baines, Ramiro Funes Mori, James McCarthy and Maarten Stekelenburg are all currently unavailable.

Hodgson faces another big challenge

Roy Hodgson has done a brilliant job at Crystal Palace and if he keeps them up will deserve to be in the running to be named as the Manager of the Season (even though we all know they'll give it to Pep).
After an atrocious start to the season, Palace have only lost two of their last 15 Premier League games and are now three points clear of the relegation zone. Yet the club's chances of staying out of the bottom three have taken a major hit thanks to a number of injuries to crucial players.
One of the pillars of Palace's resurgence has been the form of Wilfried Zaha, but an injury to the forward against Newcastle presents a fresh challenge for Hodgson. With Jason Puncheon and Bakary Sako also unavailable, can Hodgson get enough from the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Andros Townsend to ensure his side are still an attacking threat, or must he think more defensively?
Joining Puncheon, Sako and Zaha on the sidelines are Scott Dann, Martin Kelly, Jeffrey Schlupp, Julian Speroni and Connor Wickham, leaving Hodgson short of defensive options, as well as attacking threats.

Everton worthy favourites, but tread cautiously

Everton are the 2.34 favourites, with the draw at 3.30 and Palace at 3.65.
Clearly, it will be difficult for Palace to win on the road with such a lengthy injury list. Everton have only lost one of their six home games since appointing Allardyce and won their last match at Goodison Park against Leicester.
The price for an Everton win is tempting, but it's better to be cautious against a side that are fighting for their lives and have a former England manager in charge who is proving himself to be more of a versatile tactician than the man that succeeded him. Everton are 1.62 in the Draw No Bet market.

Defensive match seems likely

Under 2.5 goals is the favourite at 1.71, with overs at 2.32.
Palace's last two matches have seen only two goals scored and with Everton struggling to score goals themselves, unders is the worthy favourite.

Walcott a nice price

Theo Walcott helped himself to two goals on his Everton debut and came close to adding to his tally when he played his former club Arsenal.
It's easy to forget that Walcott helped himself to 19 goals last season, which was the second most potent campaign of his career. The winger looks overpriced to score again for Everton at 3.40.
Back under 2.5 goals at 1.71
Back Walcott to score at 3.40

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