Everton v Crystal Palace: Visitors can pinch a point
The reduced Premier League weekend kicks off at Goodison on Saturday lunchtime. Dave Tindall previews the live showdown...
Everton v Crystal Palace Saturday, 12:30 Live on BT Sport 1
Toffees on the up
It wasn't that long ago that Everton fans were so incensed by losing to Liverpool's kids in the FA Cup that some of them turned up at the training ground demanding answers.
Turns out, the Liverpool kids aren't too bad.
And it also turns out that Everton are doing pretty nicely too with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm.
In fact, since losing eight of their last 11 Premier League games under Marco Silva, the Toffees have lost just one of their last 10 under the combined tenures of Duncan Ferguson and Ancelotti, winning five and drawing four.
Add up the numbers and it may come as a surprise that only Liverpool have taken more points over the last 10 Premier League games than Everton.
Appoint a world-class manager and you get good results. Who knew?!
With two wins and two draws since the FA Cup to defeat to Liverpool, Everton are now just one place below much-lauded Wolves.
Palace on the slide
Crystal Palace have ignored any relegation worries for most of this season, sitting in mid-table obscurity.
But here we are after a sticky run and the Eagles have dived to 14th and just six points clear of safety.
With no wins since Boxing Day, an FA Cup exit at home to Championship Derby and rumours of unrest behind the scenes after a lack of activity in the transfer window, there was also a move in the Next Premier League Manager to Leave market.
Roy Hodgson had seemed immune from such talk but he briefly went favourite and is now just second to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
That said, their next five games are Everton (a), Newcastle (h), Brighton (a), Watford (h) and Bournemouth (a) so there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
Toffees look too short
Everton are the clear favourites here but 1.68 seems to be over-egging the form pudding a little.
That said, Everton are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League meetings with the visitors, keeping a clean sheet in each of the last three.
Crystal Palace are 6.60 to return to winning ways while The Draw is 3.90.
Recent form and history appears to favour Everton heavily but let's just scratch below the surface a little.
Despite their unbeaten run against Palace, six of those 10 games have been draws.
And, surely more relevant, despite their poor run, Palace are still pretty tough nuts to crack on the road. They've lost just four away games and that's the same as Manchester City, Leicester and Chelsea, who are all in Champions League spots.
Palace have drawn their last three away matches and that includes a 2-2 at Manchester City.
There's enough here to think that they can bank a point so, despite Everton's improvements, The Draw appeals at 3.90.
Palace can rally
Actually, there's scope to squeeze more from the idea of a stalemate if following recent trends.
Firstly, Everton have scored a league-high 61% of their Premier League goals in the first half of games this season (19/31).
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace have scored the lowest ratio before half-time (23%), with just five of their 22 goals coming in the opening 45 minutes.
That lends itself to a punt on Everton leading at half-time before Palace spoil the party after the break and nick an equaliser.
The Everton/Draw option is 18.00 in the Half Time/Full Time market and it's worth a dabble.
Unders deserved favourite
This intuitively feels like a game of few goals and the market reflects that, with Under 2.5 clear favourite at 1.80. Overs is 2.16.
In all competitions, nine of Palace's last 11 games have featured three goals or fewer so numbers back up the instinct.
Both teams to Score favours 'No' at 1.86.
Crystal Palace are without a clean sheet in nine Premier League games, the longest current run in the competition. However, the Eagles have only conceded more than once in two of those nine games.