“Very good of you to host the Everton relegation trauma support group tonight Rob,” says Justin Kavanagh. “And best wishes to Mary Waltz, Dame Judi Dench, Gary Naylor, Paul McCartney and Matt Burtz. Incidentally Ringo is apparently an Arsenal man, so there’ll be no letting it be if Everton go there on Sunday needing a result.”
11 min: Everton 0-0 Crystal Palace When a corner is half cleared, Jeffrey Schlupp mishits a volley wide from the edge of the area. But Palace have come to play.
Mike Jackson’s thoughts ahead of Villa v Burnley
7 min: Everton 0-0 Crystal Palace A half chance for Jordan Ayew, who heads Tyrick Mitchell’s cross wide from 15 yards.
Is it too early for the as-it-stands league table? It’s never too early for the as-it-stands league table.
Steven Gerrard’s thoughts ahead of Villa v Burnley
2 min: Everton 0-0 Crystal Palace An early bit of aggro between Anthony Gordon and Wilfried Zaha, who grabs Gordon by the throat in response to a strong tackle. Anthony Taylor doesn’t unsheath his yellow card.
“I have abandoned sport analysis and descended into biblical revenge theory,” writes Everton supporter Mary Waltz. “There must have been some act of cruelty in my teen years that God has decided to finally punish me for. When God says vengeance is mine she isn’t kidding.”
Peep peep! Everton v Crystal Palace is under way at Goodison Park, and it’s hella noisy.
“Goodison is like a wild dog,” says Gary Naylor. “You’re not sure what’s it’s going to do when it’s cornered, but you’re bloody glad when you find out it’s on your side.”
Antonio Rudiger says farewell to Stamford Bridge tonight. Chelsea will need to sign at least one centre-back in the summer, and Ben McAleer has been looking at some of the options.
“Hi Rob,” says Matt Burtz. “I will keep it brief: Dear Everton, please win today so that a result isn’t required at Arsenal on Sunday. This season has been hellish enough, is an easy 3-0 too much to ask for?”
I’m sorry I assumed that was a rhetorical question.
“Even at the beginning of the season (and going back for rather a lot of them), it was common knowledge that if a team could just get on top of Everton at Goodison Park, even the home crowd would help the opposition out,” says Harriet Osborn. “Since I certainly don’t watch every Everton match, I lost track of when their home fans really started getting behind them – when did they suddenly turn into one of the best home supports in world football, and what caused it? The end of Rafa? The wolf of relegation sniffing in the keyhole? Regardless, I’d imagine this is one of those stories we’ll talk and write about for a long time after this season’s gone.”
I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law, but I think it was when things got really desperate: Chelsea at the start of May. The atmosphere was good before then, particularly for the Man Utd game, but Chelsea was different. It’s easy to forget that Everton were five points adrift of safety going into the match.
Steven Gerrard rests Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings ahead of Operation Etihad on Sunday. Ezri Konsa (injured) and Marvelous Nakamba are also missing. The four players who come into the side are Calum Chambers, Jacob Ramsey, Carney Chukwuemeka and Emi Buendia.
James Tarkowski is fit to return for Burnley, so Matthew Lowton drops out. That’s the only change from the defeat at Spurs on Sunday.
Essential pre-match listening
Do it! Or don’t, it’s not compulsory.
One change for Everton from the defeat against Brentford: Michael Keane replaces the suspended Jarrad Branthwaite.
Patrick Vieira makes three changes from the Palace side that drew at Villa Park on Saturday. Will Hughes, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew come in; Cheikhou Kouyate, Conor Gallagher and Luka Milivojevic drop to the bench.
Look, this isn’t the time for pretty preambles. At this stage of the season it’s all about getting the job done. Tonight that means following two huge games in the increasingly desperate scrap to avoid relegation from the Premier League: Aston Villa v Burnley and Everton v Crystal Palace.
You’re probably all permutationed out, so I’ll keep this bit brief. Burnley will move out of the relegation zone, and keep their fate in their own hands, if they avoid defeat at Villa Park. Everton will be safe – no ifs, no buts – if they beat Crystal Palace at home. But if they don’t, Sunday’s final day of the season will be fraught with peril.
These are the Premier League games we’ll be following:
- Aston Villa v Burnley (8pm)
- Chelsea v Leicester (8pm)
- Everton v Crystal Palace (7.45pm)
Chelsea v Leicester is less important but not entirely without significance. Chelsea need a point to secure third place; Leicester, who could still end up anywhere between eighth and 14th, would at least like to finish in the top half.
But that game – all doo respect – is a distant third in our list of priorities tonight.