Rafael Benitez declined to confirm whether or not Lucas Digne would be available for selection when Everton take on Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Digne was left out against Arsenal on Monday, as Everton came from behind to win for the first time since September thanks to Demarai Gray’s stunning stoppage-time strike.
The France left-back, who has been a consistent performer for Everton since his arrival from Barcelona in 2018, has not been at his best this season, albeit Benitez’s system has demanded more from Digne defensively.
He has still created 22 chances, ranking him second in Everton’s squad, though is yet to provide an assist, though he did score in the EFL Cup against QPR.
Reports emerged after the Arsenal game that Digne and Benitez had a training-ground disagreement over his role, and asked about the situation on Friday, Everton’s manager refused to reveal too much.
“It is clear – the manager decides,” Benitez said. “He has been training today and we will see tomorrow if he is available or not.
“We need all the players around because that increases the competition, but at the same time everyone has to be focused and realise the priority has to be the team. What he has to do is ensure he continues working hard and the team is ahead of any individual.”
Palace are winless in four games, losing their last three, but Patrick Vieira believes his team have still performed well.
He said: “I think the last four games, one point is not what we wanted of course. The results weren’t what we wanted and expected but on the other side, we have to look at how we performed. We lost some games we deserved at least a point from.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Crystal Palace – Conor Gallagher
Conor Gallagher has been a standout performer for Palace, and was linked with a move to Everton in the off season. The on-loan midfielder already has four league goals this season, though the last came on November 6, in a 2-0 win over Wolves.
Everton – Richarlison
Richarlison scored three times against Arsenal, only for two of the goals to be ruled out for offside on VAR checks. The Brazil forward finally headed in a brilliant equaliser, and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin still out injured, he seems set to lead Everton’s line once more.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– All four of Wilfried Zaha’s Premier League goals for Palace this season have been the opening goal of the game, with three of those ending up being the game’s winning strike. The Ivorian has scored just once in his 11 Premier League games against Everton, and has never been on the winning side against the Toffees.
– Benitez has lost 12 of his last 17 Premier League away games against London sides (W3 D2), with both draws in that run coming at Palace. It’s just one fewer defeat than he suffered in his first 30 such games in the competition (W12 D5 L13).
– Following a seven-game unbeaten run, Palace have lost their last three Premier League games. They last lost more consecutively in June/July 2020 (7).
– Everton are unbeaten in 10 Premier League away games against Palace (D5 L5), since a 1-0 loss in October 1994. In their top-flight history, only against Preston (11 between 1897 and 1911) and Liverpool (15 between 1899 and 1914) have they had longer unbeaten away runs.
– Everton have failed to score in their last six Premier League games played on Sundays, since a 1-0 win at West Ham in May. It is the longest run the Toffees have had without a goal on a specific day of the week in the competition, while no side has ever failed to score in seven consecutive Premier League Sunday games.