Everton are back in action later today in the Third Round of the Capital One Cup, also known as the League Cup. Probably the least glamorous of the three routes to Europe, nevertheless this might be the relatively easiest one with most of the bigger clubs choosing to field weakened squads. Manager Roberto Martinez in his previous life at Wigan Athletic has fielded completely revamped starting XIs in these fixtures, so it would be interesting to see who is on the pitch today.
Today's game sees them traveling to London to take on Fulham, who are on a six-game winless streak at home. Their only wins this year have been against Sunderland and Burton Albion (in a penalty shootout), and Martin Jol is under some pressure to break his side out of their slump.
Darron Gibson is fully fit and is expected to anchor the midfield. Martinez might choose to give Romelu Lukaku a few extra days of rest after his concussion on Saturday, which then presents a quandary. Start Nikica Jelavic to give him (yet) another chance to break out of his slump? Start Arouna Kone to give him a chance to show that he can play on this side? Or go for broke and start both? Gerard Deulofeu was simply electric in his last start, and should be in the side too.
For the Cottagers, Jol might send out a full-strength squad which should have Dimitar Berbatov, Bryan Ruiz and Aaron Hughes all back from injury. First choice goalie Maarten Stekelenburg and Matthew Briggs remain out.
Keys To The Game:
This is likely to be a tight affair, with midfield possession the key. Everton are averaging 59.6% of ball possession, highest in the League, while Fulham are mid-table with 45.4%. The London side are right at the bottom of the aerial duels won stat, and Everton might have an opportunity here to beat them in the air. Fulham also attack for the most part down their right while Everton attack mostly down their left - this will be an area to keep an eye on all game long.
- Everton are unbeaten in their last eight games against Fulham, winning six.
- The Toffees have only managed one road win in their last six League Cup fixtures though.
- Fulham have never gone beyond the quarter finals of this competition.
- Bryan Ruiz has scored in the last two games Everton has played at Craven Cottage.
- This game is one of six all-Premier-League ties in the Third Round of the Capital One Cup.