Lukaku starts despite his toe injury looking to add to his tally of three goals from his last four games against Palace
Sky Sports' cameras descend on Goodison Park for the first time this season as Everton face Crystal Palace in the first match of the weekend's top-flight programme.
Sky's decision to open up Friday nights to Premier League football has not been welcomed in all quarters, with critics concerned that there is a risk of saturation with top-class football now on every day of the week, not to mention the usual difficulties posed for some supporters by evening matches.
(It's not the first time Everton have played a league game on a Friday, of course; more than once Boxing Day fixtures have fallen on Fridays — most recently, a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City in December 2014 — but they tend to get forgotten because they're public holidays.)
Tonight's meeting with Palace does, however, offer an opportunity for Evertonians to assemble under Goodison Park's magical lights and provide a special atmosphere to spur the Blues on to a much-needed victory.
Successive defeats, the first of Ronald Koeman's fledgeling tenure, have allowed some apprehension creep into discussions among Blues who feel a little uneasy that, after such a promising start, there is actually pressure on the players to put in a top-level performance so soon in the season.
Koeman was typically phlegmatic in his pre-match press conference and put last weekend's disappointment against Bournemouth as a collective bad day at the office but, with two barren weeks over the international break to ponder any bad result, you do feel that there's a lot more riding on this match than normal. Certainly, there is a need and desire to re-establish that early momentum that the Dutchman had established with four wins on the bounce.
It probably doesn't help that the visitors are Palace who will arrive with their tails up thanks to a three-match winning streak of their own and who have been something of a bogey side for us at Goodison since they returned to the Premier League in 2013. Two 3-2 wins — one effectively ended the Toffees' Champions League hopes in Roberto Martinez's first season; the other, coming on the heels of the 6-3 defeat to Chelsea, offered an early sign that 2014-15 was not going to see the team build on the fifth-place finish of the preceding campaign — and last season's 1-1 draw ensured that an Everton side hasn't beaten the Eagles at home since April 2005 on their way to finishing in fourth place.
Having endured some awful runs of form under Alan Pardew in recent times, Palace look to be a different proposition now that they've finally acquired a striker who can pose a reliable aerial threat and offer the promise of regular goals in Christian Benteke. Never what you could call prolific in his time at Liverpool, the Belgian hasn't looked like the same player since a ruptured Achilles disrupted his time at Aston Villa but he will still pose enough of a problem that Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams will have to pay close attention to him.
It was his headed goal in stoppage time that completed Palace's recovery from a 2-0 deficit at Sunderland last Saturday to win 3-2 and they will almost certainly look to serve him with crosses and at set-pieces.
Everton, of course, have their own Belgian target man in Romelu Lukaku, who has 11 more Premier League goals than his compatriot and is two years younger. He won't be operating at 100%, however, with pain from the toe he injured against Middlesbrough still bothering him according to his manager. Koeman insisted in his pre-match press conference that Lukaku will start, though, and Evertonians will be hoping it won't affect him too much.
With Leighton Baines also out, there is the possibility that Koeman could name an unchanged side from last weekend, which would mean Bryan Oviedo continuing at left back in his absence. Gareth Barry could be a lingering concern after he was forced off at the Vitality Stadium with an ankle problem but his condition was not addressed during the manager's “presser” yesterday so it's not known if he is a doubt.
Koeman hinted that he is never averse to making personnel changes to suit the kind of game promised by a given opponent but it remains to be seen if he will, particularly as last weekend illustrated the paucity of game-changing options on the bench.
Whatever team he opts for, Everton will likely need a top-drawer performance at both ends of the park. Koeman's summer business has certainly beefed the side up in terms of being able to match more physical outfits like Palace and if they can put in the work rate to match while rediscovering the potency they displayed against the likes of Sunderland, then they should win and put a bounce back into the step to take into the international break.
A hopefully fired-up Yannick Bolasie playing against his old team, a more polished, confident Ross Barkley display and more influence from Kevin Mirallas would create the conditions in which Lukaku can thrive and improve upon his tally of three goals from his last four against the South Londoners.
Kick-off: 8pm, Friday 30 September, 2016
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Last Time: Everton 1 - 1 Crystal Palace
Predicted Line-up: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Jagielka, Williams, Oviedo, Barry, Gueye, Barkley, Bolasie, Mirallas, Lukaku
Quotes sourced from ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (57)
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1 Posted 30/09/2016 at 04:22:31
Didn't we play one of those on Good Friday also when we had Arteta? Point being, that Friday football has worked for us in the past.
As for Palace, last time I saw them play when I was in person at the game we won 3-1 at their place with I think Bilic, Cadamarteri and Ferguson scoring? Or maybe Materazzi instead of Bilic.
Anyway, this whole bogey team thing is as relevant today as that game I saw because we've a different manager, different style and some different players. So I believe we will win 2-1.
2 Posted 30/09/2016 at 04:36:34
3 Posted 30/09/2016 at 07:26:46
4 Posted 30/09/2016 at 07:39:36
5 Posted 30/09/2016 at 07:40:15
6 Posted 30/09/2016 at 07:54:09
7 Posted 30/09/2016 at 08:00:01
Or is that just coincidence?
8 Posted 30/09/2016 at 08:08:15
9 Posted 30/09/2016 at 08:12:13
10 Posted 30/09/2016 at 08:42:10
Jags and Williams are fantastic at cutting out danger and blocking shots. Unfortunately, neither of them are particularly tall and dominant in the air. If Benteke steals half a yard, he's a real threat.
11 Posted 30/09/2016 at 08:48:00
Great seeing Barry Venison's stupid face after rolling them over. The momentum going into the Cup Final was really starting to build by that point. Fond memory.
12 Posted 30/09/2016 at 09:03:28
14 Posted 30/09/2016 at 09:24:37
I think with injury concerns to Baines and Barry I'd compensate with a reshuffle and go 3-5-2. Bring Funes Mori into the three.
15 Posted 30/09/2016 at 09:34:46
16 Posted 30/09/2016 at 09:37:26
17 Posted 30/09/2016 at 09:48:52
Coleman, Jagielka, Williams, Funes Mori
Lennon, Gana, Cleverley, Bolasie
Subs: Robles, Oviedo, Deulofeu, Mirallas, Kone, Davies, Valencia
I would like to see Lennon given a go in place of Mirallas and Funes Mori in place of Oviedo.
18 Posted 30/09/2016 at 09:56:38
He went on to say that he has had open discussions with the players to see how they believe they can improve the pressing style he wants us to play.
I like the fact that he is open to hear the players opinions, he says they have specially worked on this part of the game this week and he is looking to see if it has improved us. I like everything I hear from Koeman's confidence in his own ability to listen to the players.
19 Posted 30/09/2016 at 10:05:27
An interesting one, I hope we get a convincing win, but to be honest I'll settle for a squeaky one-nil.
20 Posted 30/09/2016 at 10:09:26
Recovering is the thing now and it needs all of us associated with the club to get behind them and stop this ridiculous whingeing when we have a couple of bad games.
22 Posted 30/09/2016 at 10:34:18
I'm really hoping to see three at the back with Funes Mori covering the left side, Williams centre and Jags right. It is balanced and I'm concerned about Palace's threat in the air. Losing Baines is a big blow, bigger than it should have been as we let good left-sided players out on loan and cover is limited when it shouldn't have been. Oviedo can handle left wing back and Coleman the right side.
Much hinges on Barry being fit and able to resume his strong partnership with Gueye in front of those three central defenders. Up front it's about the wing back service and width, but personally I'd love to see Bolasie close to Rom, with Mirallas behind them, but in a freer role.
That leaves no place for Ross in my line up of course. I honestly think he needs some time out of what has built into a pressure cooker situation where he tries too hard and headless chicken re-emerges. He'd offer much as an option later on the game from the bench at present. I don't think it will happen, I think he will play and my three at the back probably won't materialise. Should be a competitive game and I do expect a few goals. COYB!!
23 Posted 30/09/2016 at 10:37:31
24 Posted 30/09/2016 at 10:58:44
It looks like he's getting there, if not already there, but he took over a year ago. Klopp did similar at Dortmund. I believe we have the same problem. It's almost a change of culture, but we'll get there.
25 Posted 30/09/2016 at 11:28:58
He just needs utilising correctly and he does give us a good aerial threat at set pieces. He has better pace and younger legs than both Jags and Williams which could be important against Palace's quick counter-attacks.
If Barry is fit, he must start and please, let's start with Bolasie on the left! Like one or two others, I'd like to see Lennon given a start on the right with Mirallas or Deulofeu maybe introduced as fresh legs in the second half.
I can't make my mind up over Barkley. Does Koeman give him one more chance to redeem himself? It's a vital game tonight. Anything less than a win will really burst our early season bubble of hope and expectation so maybe start Geri at #10 and leave Ross on the bench?
26 Posted 30/09/2016 at 12:04:41
I think it will be a tough job to get players like Geri, Rom, Ross and Kev to continually press and close down high up the pitch. It's hard enough to get them to work hard at making forward runs. I'd love to see Yan and Geri start to whip in crosses much earlier and use Rom more for 1-2s. Yan seems to do this a bit but when it the last time you see Geri pass and go for a return?
One other point on Ram. I just noticed he's 6'-3'' whereas Jags is 6 foot and is definitely more of a threat when attacking corners.
27 Posted 30/09/2016 at 12:10:37
It'll cost some players, even those on top lolly, their place at the club in due course, that course being, according to Koeman, three or four windows long. If I was in our squad, I'd be doing exactly what he says right now, starting tonight.
28 Posted 30/09/2016 at 12:21:16
Our problem is our predictability. If the wingers don't spark, we seem to have no idea how to open teams up through the middle.
Lukaku has had poor service in the last two outings and the midfield needs to show more desire to get up and support him. Barkley really needs a good game. The cameras will be on him, and Southgate is about to name his squad.
We could go second in the rankings. Does he need any more motivation?
I think we will win tonight, 3-1, with Bolasie on the scoresheet.
29 Posted 30/09/2016 at 12:47:39
2-2 draw, good game for the neutral but another chance gone for us to steal a march at the top methinks.
Prove me wrong Blue Boys!
30 Posted 30/09/2016 at 12:52:28
31 Posted 30/09/2016 at 12:54:36
I would have preferred posing bollocks, at least he's consistent.
32 Posted 30/09/2016 at 13:01:27
33 Posted 30/09/2016 at 13:06:36
I'd drop Barkley for today's game. I just don't think his head is right. Really hoping that Goodison is rocking tonight. If the fans start getting on the players' backs then you can see it affect their performance one-by-one. Really need 3 points tonight with City up next.
34 Posted 30/09/2016 at 13:18:13
35 Posted 30/09/2016 at 13:19:55
36 Posted 30/09/2016 at 13:20:17
37 Posted 30/09/2016 at 13:48:04
The trouble is.,, I doubt whether some of them are up to it.
38 Posted 30/09/2016 at 14:36:05
So live televised Friday night football is technically not new – except of course it is because it was before 1992 and football only started in 1992.
40 Posted 30/09/2016 at 14:53:50
41 Posted 30/09/2016 at 15:18:23
As regards the team, I would give Barkley a rest and try 3 at the back with Holgate and Coleman on the right and Bolasie and Mirallas on the left. Two up front choice between Valencia (yet to come good) Kone (will he ever come good?) or Deulofeu (for his unpredictability and pace).
That should give us a strong defence and attacking options left right and centre.
42 Posted 30/09/2016 at 15:26:11
43 Posted 30/09/2016 at 15:26:55
44 Posted 30/09/2016 at 15:27:11
45 Posted 30/09/2016 at 15:36:00
46 Posted 30/09/2016 at 15:49:04
47 Posted 30/09/2016 at 16:21:17
So, with all his shenanigans that followed, that led me to believe one thing: that he is seriously corrupt, and his shady personal business dealings only confirmed this. I'd prefer a bungling inept Moss to a blatantly anti-Everton Clattenberk.
48 Posted 30/09/2016 at 16:23:34
49 Posted 30/09/2016 at 16:39:00
50 Posted 30/09/2016 at 17:20:25
Palace always give me the jitters.
51 Posted 30/09/2016 at 17:26:25
Nuff said about that side of things so let's concentrate on what we need to do to get the three points. The first thing is for the team to show up from the start and not allow the opposition to gain confidence from any early jitters in defence.
We know Palace have some speedy guys so Everton have to be careful not to give ball away by silly passes. I would love to see a really stellar game from Barkley for once.
52 Posted 30/09/2016 at 18:28:05
Let's hope we have a good go tonight, and then the crowd will get right behind the team.
53 Posted 30/09/2016 at 18:39:52
I thought Lennon was right up Koeman's street, but there's obviously something he doesn't like.
We need to put last week behind us. A win and we can view it as a blip, a defeat would represent a minor slump in the view of many.
I'm quietly confident, but very nervous...
54 Posted 30/09/2016 at 19:01:22
56 Posted 30/09/2016 at 19:06:25
57 Posted 30/09/2016 at 19:13:57
58 Posted 30/09/2016 at 19:16:25
Reminds me of a Martinez team, no left hand side, but plenty of midfielders. I hope Bolasie and Lukaku are on top of their game, because where are the goals going to come from?
59 Posted 30/09/2016 at 19:16:46
62 Posted 30/09/2016 at 19:22:44
63 Posted 30/09/2016 at 19:29:56