With Everton’s home record against tomorrow’s visitors and Fulham’s form under Martin Jol, tomorrow’s encounter would seem to be a forgone conclusion. However under Rene Meulensteen there has been a complete turnaround for the Cottagers.
Everton go into tomorrow’s fixture without a defeat in their last eight and in full of confidence. After winning at Old Trafford and drawing at the Emirates against Manchester United and Arsenal, respectively, the Toffees prepare to host Fulham in fine form. However the Blues went into their previous game against Fulham in fine form. In the third round of the Capital One Cup Everton led at halftime through a Steven Naismith goal. Goals from strikers Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent turned the game on its head and put Fulham into the next round of the League Cup.
Last season the Blues almost pulled off the exact opposite result at Craven Cottage last season when Marouane Fellaini’s double had earned Everton the lead only to be foiled by Steve Sidwell’s goal in the 89th minute for a 2-2 draw. In the return fixture at Goodison, Steven Pienaar’s 15th minute goal ensured that there was no such drama in a 1-0 victory.
Martin Jol’s Fulham had experienced a dreadful start to the season finding themselves in the bottom three. It came as no surprise that Martin Jol was sacked after only being appointed as a coach a few weeks before; Rene Meulensteen was then appointed Fulham manager. In the two games since the Dutchman has taken charge of the Cottagers, there was a spirited defeat at home to Tottenham and a victory against Aston Villa, also at Craven Cottage. That leaves Fulham 18th, 15 points behind Everton in 5th.
For the hosts, the only new absentees, to that of Leighton Baines and long-term injury suffers Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson, will be Tony Hibbert and James McCarthy. Tony Hibbert suffered a slight injury to his knee in training and will be out until next week but was unlikely to be in the eighteen that is involved having not been for some time. James McCarthy picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will therefore miss Saturday’s match through suspension. It is likely that Leon Osman will deputise for the Scottish-born Irishman.
In comparison Fulham travel up north with Darren Bent who has recovered from a slight hamstring problem and Fernando Amorebieta has also travelled but will be assessed before kick-off. Other injury news for Fulham and it is reported that skipper Brede Hangeland is recovering well after surgery on his sciatic nerve complaint. Furthermore, Matthew Briggs is making good progress following his hernia operation and Hugo Rodallega is also making progress from his muscle injury.
Goalkeepers: Howard and Robles
Defenders: Alcaraz, Coleman, Distin, Heitinga, Jagielka, Oviedo and Stones.
Midfielders: Barkley, Barry, Deulofeu, Mirallas, Osman and Pienaar
Forwards: Jelavic, Lukaku and Naismith.
Goalkeepers: Stekelenburg and Stockdale.
Defenders: Amorebieta, Hughes, Riether, Riise, Senderos and Zverotic.
Midfielders: Dejagah, Duff, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Kasami, Parker, Richardson, Ruiz, Sidwell and Vigen Christensen.
Forwards: Bent and Berbatov.
Fulham at home has been a good fixture for Everton; they have won more games at home against them than against anyone else in the Premier League with twelve victories.
Fulham have never won in the league at Goodison Park in 25 attempts – losing 21 and drawing 4.
In their first five visits to Goodison, Fulham drew four and since then they have lost the last twenty league visits to the Toffees.
Fulham have only scored 10 goals in their previous 21 league games against the Blues away from home.
In Everton’s last seven Premier League games against Fulham they are unbeaten; winning five.
In the 15 matches Everton have played in the League they have lost just once, which is the fewest in the league.
The Blues are unbeaten in their last 16 at home and have only lost two of the last 35 league home games (against Arsenal and Chelsea).
In their last twelve home games in the league, the Toffees have kept nine clean sheets.
Everton have only managed to remain unbeaten at home in a calendar three times in their history – the most recent being 1962. They also completed the feat in 1894 and 1939.
In their last six Premier League away games, Fulham have lost five and have failed to score in those five.
Fulham’s victory at home to Aston Villa last Sunday put an end to six consecutive defeats in the Barclays Premier League.
Meulensteen seems to have revived what looked like a lifeless side under Jol’s leadership and it will be imperative to the Toffees’ chance of victory that they do not underestimate their opponents tomorrow afternoon. Everton can move into second with a win even for a brief moment if results go in their favour tomorrow and it will be important to see off sides like Fulham in order to reach the potential their good start to the season has provided them.