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EPL Match of the Week: Crystal Palace at Everton

The match: Everton (5 wins, 6 draws, 3 losses, 11th place with 21 points) vs. Crystal Palace (7-1-6, eighth place with 22 points)

When: 3 p.m. EST on Monday, Dec. 7 on NBCSN

Where: Goodison Park, Liverpool, home of Everton

Last meeting: Everton won, 1-0, on a Romelu Lukaku goal on Jan. 31, 2015

Why it's a big match: No, it's not "skip out of work early" big, but it might be worth setting your DVR. Everton are rolling offensively, potting seven goals in their last two matches, while Crystal Palace recovered from a shocking 1-0 loss to Sunderland with a resounding 5-1 drubbing of Newcastle.

So far this weekend, only two matches have featured more than two goals altogether -- I'm banking on this match being a bit of a shootout. (Hopefully, at least, this match will unfold with more excitement than painfully boring United-West Ham and Chelsea-Bournemouth).

How Everton can win: After an up-and-down start to the season, Lukaku has found consistency for Roberto Martinez's side, striking in each of his last four games and boosting his total to 10 goals on the season, tied for second in the league with Saturday's hat-trick hero Riyad Mahrez. We're convinced Chelsea are ruing the day they let Lukaku walk. With unconvincing Wayne Hennessey in goal for the Eagles, there's no doubt Lukaku is licking his chops.

It's not just the burly Belgian who's pushing the Toffees, as midfielders Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu and Gareth Barry all seem to have elevated their play at the same time, giving Everton a nice balance of simplicity and flair.

21-year-old Geri Deulofeu has been a breakout player in Everton's midfield. (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

21-year-old Geri Deulofeu has been a breakout player in Everton's midfield. (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

ESPN FC raved about the 34-year-old Barry, then passed along Martinez's effusive praise for Barcelona cast-off Deulofeu, whose six assists are tied for second in the league. Also, it's hard not to like a defender named John Stones, and American goalie Tim Howard still protects Everton's net.

How Crystal Palace can win: Palace manager Alan Pardew, the fiery, combative sort, moved from Newcastle to London last winter, propelling his new side from the relegation zone to 10th place -- the club's best-ever finish -- and making a compelling case to at least be considered for a future gig coaching the England National Team. With Martinez in the other coach's box, this is a clash of very good managers.

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew is a little crazy, but he seems to be the right leader for Palace. (Getty Images)

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew is a little crazy, but he seems to be the right leader for Palace. (Getty Images)

While Palace lack a superstar, the Eagles compensate with a well-balanced attack that relies heavily on its midfield. Through 14 weeks, seven Palace players have scored two or more goals -- underrated Yannick Bolasie and ballyhooed summer signing Yohan Cabaye lead the way with four apiece.

Despite the return of Dwight Gayle -- rumored to be jettisoned in January anyhow -- from a lingering hamstring problem, Pardew's side doesn't offer much in the way of threatening strikers.

Players to watch:

Romelu Lukaku, striker for Everton. Five goals in his last four games, 10 in 14 EPL contests this season.
Yohan Cabaye, midfielder for Palace. Tied for the team lead in goals with four, the Frenchman pulls the strings for Pardew.

French international Yohan Cabaye, left, has been a brilliant signing for Palace's Alan Pardew. (Getty Images)

French international Yohan Cabaye, left, has been a brilliant signing for Palace's Alan Pardew. (Getty Images)

Injury update:

Everton: England star Leighton Baines is finally fit again after missing seven months with an ankle injury, although it's unlikely he'll feature against Crystal Palace. Fellow defender Phil Jagielka is out until Christmas, at least, while midfielder James McCarthy sounds questionable. Frankly, it's OK if you confuse Everton's James McCarthy with Palace's James McArthur, because I just learned they're two different people.

Former United midfielder Tom Cleverley is returning to full health, too, although he likely won't be selected for Monday.

Crystal Palace: Striker Wilfried Zaha has been a pleasant surprise this campaign for Palace, but he's suspended for Monday's match due to yellow card accumulation. Reserve Bakary Sako is out indefinitely with a hamstring problem, but otherwise, the Eagles are healthy.

What I think will happen: The two teams are very closely matched -- one point separated them in the 2014-15 English Premier League table -- so I'll settle on an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Romelu Lukaku, right, is a striker for Everton and Belgium, the No. 1 ranked country in the world. (Getty Images)

Romelu Lukaku, right, is a striker for Everton and Belgium, the No. 1 ranked country in the world. (Getty Images)

Email Ben Tsujimoto at btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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