After suffering a 5-1 defeat to Arsenal, it was hard to tell what Everton would enter the clash with Crystal Palace on Saturday – the one that initially showed vast improvements under Sam Allardyce, or the one that looked decisively apathetic while being humbled at the Emirates Stadium.
Fortunately for Toffees fans, it was much closer a case of the former; after a difficult first half, Everton eventually broke the deadlock through a cumbersome Gylfi Sigurdsson strike that deflected past Wayne Hennessey and then the floodgates opened – Oumar Naisse and Tom Davies extending the lead in a 3-1 win at Goodison Park.
And although he had no direct impact on either goal in terms of finding the net or providing an assist, Theo Walcott once again stood out on the right of the attack, just as he did against Arsenal as Everton’s only half-decent performer and against Leicester when he bagged a brace.
Indeed, the 47-cap England man completed eight dribbles, won five fouls – something of vital importance to any Sam Allardyce team – and had the most touches of the ball of any Everton player, but also weighed in defensively with three tackles – once again the most of any Everton player.
Allardyce has made some fantastic January signings down the years, often proving the difference between survival and relegation, but based on his early form for the Toffees, the experienced winger – who Transfermarkt value at £18million – could be one of the very best.