Crystal Palace progress under Tony Pulis should get stuck at Everton
Everton and Crystal Palace supporters must hope their respective first-choice keepers, Tim Howard and Julian Speroni, have practised saving penalties. Five spot kicks have been awarded, and scored, in their last six meetings.
As Arsenal beat West Ham, Roberto Martinez’s men slipped out of the top four. The Toffees are 11/10 to bring Champions League football to their half of Merseyside next term.
Tony Pulis has transformed the fortunes of visitors Palace, winning three in a row, so it looks like the Eagles will rewrite Premier League history and stay up for the first time in the modern era. They are massive 50/1 outsiders to go down now.
Such a fantastic run cannot last, however, and, with safety almost assured, Palace start as 15/2 chances to upset Everton. The Eagles have one win in seven against this opposition, but notably did hold the Toffees to a goalless draw (a price of 12/1 here) in the reverse fixture.
Tackling Martinez, who is odds-on at 2/5 to mastermind victory for his team, on home turf, is a totally different proposition, though. Everton tend to record results that contain four goals when playing Palace, and three of their last four league meetings have been 3-1. They are 12/1 shots to win by precisely that score here.
A safer bet is backing total goals being over 3.5 at 9/4. The Toffees taking a home win, but both teams scoring, meanwhile, is 11/4. This would be ignoring the superb defensive record of both sides, however.
Hosts Everton have kept three clean sheets in their last four, despite being without captain Phil Jageilka in defence, while Palace have won to nil in all outings in their current victorious run. A home shut-out is odds-on at 17/20, and a win to nil looks more attractive at 6/5.
Pulis and his Eagles have only picked up 11 points on the road and, because they have failed to score twice as often as their opponents, they may be found wanting on this away day. The visitors will have to give fitness tests to midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi and winger Yannick Bolasie. If the latter fails his, then expect Tom Ince to deputise.
Jason Puncheon, on Palace’s other flank, is in fine form, mind. He has three goals in his last two outings, and odds of 10/3 say he will continue this purple patch by scoring anytime.
For home side Everton, it is hard to look past big Belgian frontman Romelu Lukaku. A resolute Eagles rear-guard will try to stifle him, but back him to rise to the challenge by netting first at 4/1.
Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas supplement Lukaku’s exploits in attack nicely. You can get 5/4 and 7/4 on the Toffees forward twosome scoring respectively.