Today, Everton will face Crystal Palace in a key Premier League encounter that could determine their survival in the top-flight. Sean Dyche and his team are on the cusp of relegation, sitting on par with Nottingham Forest with 27 points, only ahead due to goal difference. With just seven games remaining, there can be no room for error at Selhurst Park.
The Toffees have failed to win any of their last four meetings and the “new manager effect” that came with Dyche’s appointment has petered out, which has coincided with Everton’s desperate climb towards safety. Conversely, the Eagles have enjoyed an upturn in form since Roy Hodgson’s return and are unbeaten in their last three games now, taking them nine points clear of the drop zone.
Dyche and his squad will have their work cut out for them, so fielding their best team against the in-form side is imperative. One player that could make the difference against Palace is striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Calvert-Lewin has struggled with injuries over the past year and a half, and his absence has been sorely felt by the Toffees. Combined with Richarlison and Anthony Gordon’s departures, the club’s scoring record this season has been underwhelming, with just 24 goals – the lowest total in the Premier League.
Fortunately, the Sunderland-born forward is back in contention just in time to pull his side out of the mire. Dyche confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Calvert-Lewin is likely to return to the starting line-up, and given his scoring record against Palace, it would make perfect sense for him to feature.
Calvert-Lewin scored the crucial goal in the 3-2 comeback victory over Palace last season, which secured Everton’s survival. In total, he has five goals and one assist against the Eagles and has never lost when playing against them. Scout Jacek Kulig has dubbed him a “beast,” and at £100k per week, he is undoubtedly one of Everton’s key assets.
Deploying Calvert-Lewin could cause chaos in the final third and give the Toffees a fighting chance against an in-form Palace side. Dyche must consider starting the striker if he is found to be fit and ready to go.