From the moment the last round of Premier League fixtures came to their conclusion Crystal Palace were looked upon as underdogs ahead of their trip to Goodison Park and following the announcement of the referee, it’s difficult not to feel as though the odds on an Eagles victory should be made even longer.
Anthony Taylor has been named as the man in the middle for Palace’s visit to Merseyside, meaning a first reunion with Wilfried Zaha since he failed to dismiss Watford’s Etienne Capoue for a shameful foul on the winger in our early season appearance at Vicarage Road. Sceptics will suggest that the incident won’t play a role in his or Palace’s approach on the day but given the storm it created, I personally can’t see how it won’t impact upon his decision making.
Palace fans have grown used to Zaha being kicked without appropriate action being taken by referees but that day (which was also broadcast live on Sky Sports just as Sunday’s game will be) served as the final straw in the minds of many, given the blatant nature of the foul, Taylor’s positioning and Capoue’s subsequent role in Watford’s victory.
Troy Deeney has since admitted on BBC radio to he and his teammates taking it in turns to kick Zaha, whilst also disclosing that the Watford side were in the ear of Taylor throughout the contest in a bid to turn him against Wilfried specifically. This isn’t speculation on my part, they are actual quotes from Watford’s captain, so I’m sure you can understand a sense of trepidation in my part ahead of another game under his watchful eye.
Taylor hasn’t taken charge of an Everton game so far this season but did officiate the 2-2 draw between Palace and the Toffees at Selhurst Park last November, awarding the visitors a penalty for a “foul” on Oumar Niasse which later saw the striker banned for diving by an FA panel; factor in our trip to Stamford Bridge in March when he inexplicably ruled out a perfectly good Alexander Sørloth goal and you start to wonder whether or not the man has an axe to grind with the club.
Regardless of the water that has passed under the bridge, we’re stuck with Taylor whether we like it or not. Let’s just hope he doesn’t drop another clanger in front of the cameras; it would make for a pleasant change.