Following a miserable eight-game winless run in the Premier League, Crystal Palace ended 2023 on a high as they came from behind to beat Brentford 3-1 at Selhurst Park last Saturday.
The Eagles were trailing inside the first two minutes courtesy of a strike from Keane Lewis-Potter, but two goals from Michael Olise and a strike from Eberechi Eze helped the hosts claim three much-needed points to ease the pressure on manager Roy Hodgson.
Not only have 14th-placed Palace moved six points clear of the relegation zone, but they managed to gain three points on five of the six teams below them in the table, although 18th-placed Luton Town still possess a game in hand.
Before preparing for their next Premier League fixture at Arsenal on January 20, Palace will shift their focus to the FA Cup, a competition in which they have experienced mixed success in recent seasons as they have been eliminated from the third round in four of the last six years, but reached the semi-finals in 2021-22.
The Eagles have only progressed from two of their previous six FA Cup ties against Thursday’s opponents Everton, but they did thrash the Toffees 4-0 on home soil in their most recent cup clash in March 2022.
looked as if Everton were turning a corner under manager Sean Dyche as they won seven games out of nine across all competitions heading into the festive period, but they ended 2023 with four straight defeats in a 12-day period, conceding nine goals in the process.
A penalty-shootout loss at home for Fulham in the EFL Cup was followed by three successive defeats in the Premier League, including a disappointing 3-0 away loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday – a game in which the Toffees failed to register any of their 10 shots on target.
Dyche’s side subsequently remain 16th in the Premier League table, just one point above the relegation zone with Luton, as previously mentioned, having a game in hand, and their upcoming top-flight fixture schedule is challenging to say the least as they face Aston Villa, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in their next four matches.
A break from Premier League action is just what the doctor ordered for Everton as they prepare to face Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, although success in this competition against top-flight opposition has been difficult to come by for the Toffees, as they have lost seven of their last nine such ties, including all four away from home during this run.
Everton are also winless in their last 12 FA Cup games played in London, but their recent record against Palace bodes well ahead of Thursday’s contest as they have won three and drawn one of their last four meetings, most recently beating the Eagles 3-2 at Selhurst Park in November.