Crystal Palace-Everton Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)

Everton will be looking to keep pace with their fellow top-four contenders as they welcome Crystal Palace to Goodison Park on Wednesday.

Roberto Martinez's Everton (12-9-4) are just five points outside the Champions League places, but a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday saw them drop behind the north London club and further behind local rivals Liverpool for fourth. The Toffees have won just two of their six league games in 2014, but Martinez's is confident of seeing a response from his players.

"It is important we focus now on Crystal Palace and we will try to get rid of the frustration in that performance," said Martinez, looking back on the defeat at Spurs. "There are many games left and there will be many twists and turns. What we can't do is get too disappointed by this result.

"Obviously we want to win games but our performance merited a good scoreline. When you do that it is a matter of keeping playing good football and the points will come."

Tony Pulis' Crystal Palace (8-2-15) continued their resurgence with a third win in four games on Saturday, climbing to 14th place in the table but still only three points clear of the drop. Both of the club's headline January signings - Tom Ince and Joe Ledley - scored in a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion, and the on-loan Ince spoke of his delight at the performance.

"The lads are brilliant, the staff, the facilities - everything around it has made me feel welcome," said Ince. "When we are winning like today it feels good, but we have to make sure we go again on Wednesday.

"There's a great bunch of lads in this dressing room and some quality, quality talent. I have to work twice as hard as these guys that have been here all season. But to come in and put in a shift first and foremost and to score on my Premier League debut is a nice way to start. I just need to keep my feet firmly on the ground, train twice as hard this week and see if I can get in the squad for Wednesday. But the three points today is what matters most."

Everton are without the injured Antolin Alcaraz, Romelu Lukaku (ankle), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Arouna Kone (knee) and Darron Gibson (knee), while Crystal Palace have doubts over the fitness of Cameron Jerome.

Only the top four have won more games at home than Everton's eight this season, while only four clubs have scored more than the Toffees' 23 and only five have conceded fewer on their own patch than the 10 yielded. Palace have been beaten 10 times away from home this season - more than any other team in the division - and have managed a league-low five goals while claiming six points in their 12 away games.

It was a goalless draw when these teams met at Selhurst Park in November. That was the first meeting between the clubs since Palace's last stint in the top-flight back in 2004-05. Everton won both games that season by a combined score of 7-1.

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