Crystal Palace will be aiming to make it back-to-back wins in the Premier League when they welcome Everton to Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The Eagles beat Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor last weekend, thus, ending a two-game losing run in the Premier League. Following the win against Burnley, Roy Hodgson’s side climbed up to 11th in the table and they will want to enter November’s international break on a high.
Everton, on the other hand, have not made a great start to the campaign, losing six of their opening 11 games. The Royal Blues were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton at Goodison Park last time out which left them 16th in the table, only five points above the drop zone.
With an exciting game at Selhurst Park on the cards, here are the key battles to watch out for at the weekend.
#Cheick Doucoure vs Abdoulaye Doucoure
Midfield battles generally determine the flow of games. The fixture between Crystal Palace and Everton will be no different. Cheick Doucoure is expected to start in the No.6 role and stick to his primary task of breaking the opposition’s attacks. He should partner Jefferson Lerma in the middle of the park and form a strong base for the creative players to thrive in the final third.
In Sean Dyche’s 4-4-1-1 system, Abdoulaye Doucoure has often operated in the hole behind the striker, and he will be looking to use his running power, physicality and movement to unlock the Palace backline. Due to the Frenchman’s ability to create goalscoring opportunities for his teammates in attack, Doucoure is expected to have his hands full in the upcoming game.
#Eberechi Eze vs Idrissa Gueye
Last weekend saw the much-anticipated return of Eberechi Eze, who set up Tyrick Mitchell’s strike after his introduction off the bench and should now be considered for a recall to the first XI over Will Hughes. A technically smart player, Eze could trouble the Everton defence with his vision and incisive passing.
Having become Palace’s creator-in-chief following Wilfried Zaha’s exit in the summer, this is where Idrissa Gueye comes in. With Amadou Onana doubtful to face Palace, Gueye is expected to partner James Garner in the Everton engine room and keep things ticking over. Operating just ahead of the back four, the Senegalese be tasked with the responsibility of keeping Eze quiet on Saturday.
Odsonne Edouard vs Jarrad Branthwaite
Odsonne Edouard is Palace’s top scorer this season with four goals in 10 games, but it’s been almost two months since he last scored a league goal. Having started the campaign really well, the Frenchman’s form has dipped of late, but with Jean-Philippe Mateta also misfiring, Hodgson is expected to go with Edouard up top against Everton.
Jarrad Branthwaite is enjoying his breakout campaign with Everton, and he appears to be an England player for the future after maturing into one of the Premier League’s most complete young defenders. On the back of a successful loan spell with PSV, the 21-year-old has brought some much-needed stability and calmness to the Everton backline.
The young Branthwaite will need to be focused from minute one to thwart the advances of Edouard. Given Palace’s counter-attacking style of football, Edouard will wait for his moments to make runs between the Everton centre-backs and create a nuisance. This is something Branthwaite will be wary of and he will need to be defensively sound to deal with the French striker.
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