Crystal Palace v Everton: Toffees' attack can hit the sweet spot again

Andrew Atherley looks at Saturday's match between two sides with 100% records and predicts an Everton win...

Crystal Palace v Everton
Saturday 26 September, 15:00
Live on Amazon Prime Video

Best ever start

Palace, like their opponents, have got off to a perfect start in the Premier League with a 1-0 home win over Southampton followed by an impressive 3-1 away victory against Manchester United. It is the first time they have ever won their first two games of a top-flight season.

Having started the season among the favourites for relegation, Roy Hodgson's team have already changed perceptions and have lengthened to 8.20 in the relegation market, with seven teams now shorter than them.

Wilfried Zaha has proved his value to Palace - and perhaps to others in the transfer market - by scoring three of their four goals but the rejuvenation of Andros Townsend, their other scorer, has also been important.

The defence, which last week comprised Mamadou Sakho, Cheikhou Kouyate, Joel Ward and 21-year-old Tyrick Mitchell, has also performed remarkably well considering the number of injuries in that department.

Patrick van Aanholt, James Tomkins, Gary Cahill and Nathan Ferguson remain on the injury list, along with Connor Wickham, while Christian Benteke's return remains in doubt.

Attacking force

Everton sit second in the table after starting their first full campaign under Carlo Ancelotti with a 1-0 win at Tottenham and a 5-2 home victory over West Brom.

The Toffees have also demonstrated their prowess as an attacking force with two high-scoring wins in the Carabao Cup (3-0 at home to Salford and 5-2 away to Fleetwood).

The front three of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and James Rodriguez have been electric, scoring five of Everton's six league goals, and the midfield three of Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Andre Gomes have also impressed.

Ancelotti has no new injury concerns and looks likely to select the same starting XI for the third league game in a row.

Exciting creators can make the difference

Few would have predicted this match as a top-of-the-table clash at the start of the season but it is one of the most anticipated games of the weekend after the flying start made by both teams.

Hodgson's well-drilled defensive structure may well be the stiffest test yet of Everton's exciting attack, although the stats say Ancelotti's side will have a high chance of success if they can breach the back line and keeping them out will be difficult.

Palace's record when conceding at home in 2020 is W0 D2 L5 and their last win in that scenario was 2-1 against West Ham on December 26.

Since then all three of their wins at Selhurst Park have been 1-0, which is their most common way to take three points at home. More than two-thirds of Palace's home wins under Hodgson (13 out of 19) have been to nil.

That has to be the way to go for Palace backers but on this season's evidence it would be a surprise if Everton's creativity were stifled entirely.

According to one calculation of expected goals (xG) Everton are second only to Liverpool in the for column and rank fourth, above Palace's mean defence, in the against column.

Perhaps the biggest doubt about Everton's win chance is that these two counter-attacking teams could cancel each other out and not commit enough in forward areas, but so far Ancelotti's revamped side look as if they will be able to play more than one way.

Everton's growing reputation means they are 2.20 for the win and they are the likely winners.

For better odds the selection is Everton off -1 on the Asian handicap at 3.25, which is a successful bet if they win by two or more goals, and no bet if they win by a single goal.

Palace top for unders

Last season Palace were top for home games with under 2.5 goals (16 out of 19, 84%) and they started the new campaign in the same vein with their 1-0 win over Southampton.

In their previous full season under Hodgson they also finished top (13 out of 19 under 2.5 goals, 68%).

Everton's patterns are less well established given the new look to their side this season, although the early indications are that they will rank high in attacking stats.

They rank second to Liverpool for shots this season, and fourth overall for shots on target, and that should continue to translate into goals.

It is worth considering a bet against the Palace stats with over 2.5 goals priced at 2.28.

Opta Stat

Other than Goodison Park, Everton have kept more Premier League clean sheets at Selhurst Park than any other venue (9), with six of those coming in their last seven visits to the stadium. Everton are 23/10 to win to nil with Betfair Sportsbook.

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