Massive blow ahead of Everton vs Palace – will Toffees struggle without him?

According to reports from The Express, defender Leighton Baines is set to miss Everton’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on Friday night.

What’s the word?

The England international was ruled out last weekend’s visit to Bournemouth with a hamstring injury and according to The Express – who, admittedly, are by no means the most reliable of sources – he’s set to miss the Toffees’ home tie with Palace in the coming instalment of Friday Night Football. With Brendan Galloway loaned out to West Brom, Bryan Oviedo got the nod against the Cherries last weekend and will almost certainly keep his place on Friday due to a lack of viable alternatives.

How big a blow is Baines’ injury?

Despite seemingly dropping out of England contention, the 31-year-old has been in terrific form this season and appeared to be getting back to his best after spending the majority of last term sidelined with injury issues. As detailed below, courtesy of Whoscored, he’s created the third-most chances of any Premier League player to be deployed as a left-back or a left midfielder (excluding left wingers) so far this season and completed the ninth-most tackles:

baines-compared

So will his absence affect Everton’s chances?

Overall, this isn’t a fantastic time to face Palace anyway. After a slow start to the season, Alan Pardew’s boys have lost just one in six across all competitions – a League Cup defeat to Southampton – and picked up three consecutive wins in the Premier League, including a last-minute away victory against Sunderland last weekend.

Everton are still the stronger team on paper but it’s rather telling that their first Premier League defeat under Ronald Koeman came in Baines’ absence against Bournemouth on Saturday. He’s one of the Toffees’ most experienced defenders and one of their strongest outlets going forward, so Baines’ injury could impede them at both ends of the pitch against an in-form Palace side, especially considering the threat Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend can offer the Eagles down the right flank.