Crystal Palace lucky to come away with a point after costly Calvert-Lewin miss
Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton
Crystal Palace’s two-game victorious sequence without their talisman Wilfried Zaha is over as Roy Hodgson's troop dropped their first point since his second homecoming in a drab 0-0 draw against ten-man Everton at Selhurst Park.
Yet despite their perfect record under Hodgson coming to an end after consecutive wins over Leicester, Leeds and Southampton, the one point is of bigger significance to Palace than Everton.
With Nottingham losing 3-2 to Liverpool, the Eagles are now looking down on the eight teams embroiled in a relegation scrap from the height of their ten-point advantage. Mathematically they can still go down, but it would take something akin to a disaster.
That said, Everton played well today and even outperformed the Eagles in large spells of the game, especially in the first period. And with the returning Dominic Calvert-Lewin coming agonisingly close by wasting the best chance of the game in the second half, Palace can count themselves lucky with the draw. They could have been one of only FOUR victims in the last two seasons to lose against the Toffees on home soil. Despite a good showing in south London, Everton are yet to add to their three away wins in the league since the end of the 2020/2021 season. Since Carlo Ancelotti's days, when they won 11 on their travels in a single season, the Toffees have found it tough to play away from Goodison.
But in the light of all those statistics, it would not have been an embarrassment for Palace if they had lost. Everton have England’s number one goalkeeper, a highly reliable defender in Tarkowski and some quality across their team in the name of Gueye, Gray, Iwobi and others. And their away-form blues didn’t show. It's just that they don't click in front of goal.
In the end this toss-of-the-coin type of game ended with neither team managing to find a breakthrough goal.
Palace were quite happy to concede the initiative to Everton in the first 45 minutes in an attempt to hurt them transition or through long balls forward. Hut Jordan Ayew’s header was their only chance of a poor opening half.
And even though Everton started off confidently and were the brighter of the two sides their possession got them nowhere. Added to that, their lack of quality in the final third combined with Palace's stubborn defending forced them to pepper Sam Johnstone's goal from a long way out. Most of their goalchances were from outside the box.
Everton showed their intentions early on through Dwight McNeil whose low effort was comfortably saved by Johnstone. The England international kept his place in goal despite Vicente Guaita’s return. The ex-Burnley winger then tried his luck again as the first-half progressed. Same result: Johnstone was equal to it.
If Everton are going to stay up they need Calvert-Lewin fit and firing. The Sheffield-born attacker, who has been dealing with injury woes in the last two campaigns, was the most dangerous Evertonian. And having scored in the 3-0 win over today’s opposition at Goodison Park in the reverse fixture, he was up for it again. But both his flicked header and low drive from the edge of the box were blocked by the former Baggies goalkeeper who also pulled off a superb save from a far-range Iwobi volley. All these chances had one common denominator: they were from outside the area. Dyche must have been drumming into his players that the 30-year-old stopper isn’t all that when facing long-range shots and has clangers in him otherwise it’s inexplicable that they kept firing at him from all the angles.
After their return from the dressing room Palace improved in terms of energy and application. But Everton still sensed they were there for the taking. And they could have won it. But after being played through by Iwobi following a long clearance by Pickford, Calvert-Lewin uncharacteristically stabbed his shot just wide of goal.
Later on, Everton navigated through some uncomfortable moments and breathed a sight of relief when Ebere Eze’s fine dinked finish was chalked off for offside.
Mason Holgate was also sent off, but the Toffees held on for what could turn out to be a huge point come the end of the season.
Dyche’s men are still in the lower reaches of the table, but if the league season ended today, they’d be safe. And they will be if Calvert-Lewin stays fit.
21 Sam Johnstone- 2 Joel Ward- 3 Tyrick Mitchell- 6 Marc Guehi- 7 Michael Olise-9 Jordan Ayew- 10 Eberechi Eze- 15 Jeffrey Schlupp- 16 Joachim Andersen- 22 Odsonne Edouard- 28 Cheick Doucoure
1 Jordan Pickford- 2 James Tarkowski- 4 Mason Holgate- 5 Michael Keane- 7 Dwight McNeil- 9 Dominic Calvert Lewin- 11 Demarai Gray- 17 Alexander Iwobi- 19 Vitalii Mykolenko- 27 Idrissa Gana Gueye- 37 James Garner