The Toffees’ failure to take all three points from the home of the Gunners will now tick over into a 23rd year, though there were some positives to take from last weekend’s performance at the Emirates.
Marco Silva set out the team to attack an Arsenal side still adjusting to their new manager after so long under Arsene Wenger. They created at least six decent chances to take the lead but a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping denied them.
As the missed chances stacked up it became increasingly inevitable that Arsenal would go up the other end and score. A wonder strike and blatantly offside goal five minutes apart knocked the stuffing out of the Blues and another miserable trip to north London was confirmed.
Much focus was placed on the team’s forward line, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s missed chance early on highlighting Everton’s lack of killer instinct up front. We already seem to rely on Richarlison far too much so more is needed from Calvert-Lewin, Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott to share the goalscoring burden. Even if they do step up though I’m sure Marcel Brands is already on the hunt for attacking recruits in January.
Taken in isolation we should take heart from the display, particularly when you contrast the way they played at the same ground under Sam Allardyce in February. They performed admirably up to a point, but a failure to take their chances proved critical.
Placed in context though it is yet another defeat in a season that is already losing some of the momentum generated by Silva’s arrival over the summer.
The Huddersfield and West Ham results placed even greater pressure on the Arsenal match and even though the performance was much improved, a failure to collect any points simply shifts the focus onto the next game.
Speaking of which, the arrival of Fulham to Goodison Park should bring comfort to those who know their history.
In contrast to their woeful record against Arsenal, Everton have never lost to Fulham at home in the league, suffering just two FA Cup defeats in 1975 and 1948. They have won their last 11 Premier League home matches against the Cottagers since a 1-1 FA Cup draw in 2004.
Records are there to be broken of course, and Fulham’s impressive start to the season combined with Everton’s teething problems under Silva means this is far from a free pass.
Managers and owners of mid-to-low ranking Premier League clubs will have looked on nervously at Fulham over the summer as they embarked on an unprecedented spending spree.
The Cottagers became the first newly promoted side to spend in excess of £100m on new players as owner Shahid Khan - who also owns NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars - flexed his financial muscle.
With Wolves also spending big, it seems likely that at least two of three newly promoted sides will stay up, piling the pressure on those who regularly lurk near the bottom of the table.
Khan, who is currently in talks to purchase Wembley stadium, couldn’t prevent the club’s 13-year stay in the top flight coming to an end in 2014 after buying the club from Mohamed Al-Fayed the previous summer.
However, after a couple of seasons of transition the appointment of Slavisa Jokanovic sparked a revival in their fortunes.
The Cottagers finished sixth in Jokanovic’s first full season in charge before losing to Reading in the play-off semi-finals. The west London side narrowly missed out on automatic promotion last year, finishing third, but did secure promotion back to the Premier League courtesy of a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the play-off final.
In a bid to ensure their stay back in the top flight is a long one, the club were extremely busy in the transfer market, bringing in the likes of Andre Anguissa, Joe Bryan, Alfie Mawson, Andre Schurrle and Aleksandar Mitrovic - who enjoyed a successful loan spell at the club last season. The Serbian has also been one of the club’s standout players so far this campaign, scoring five goals in six games to sit alongside Eden Hazard at the top of the goalscoring charts. The result is a steady start comprising of one win, two draws and three defeats to sit 15th in the table.
Despite all the new arrivals one of their key players is captain Tom Cairney, who scored the winner in the play-off final. Frustratingly for the Cottagers the midfielder is struggling with an ankle injury with the club yet to win in the league without him so far.
Marco Silva has confirmed Yerry Mina will miss Saturday’s game after aggravating a foot injury in training.
Seamus Coleman and Andre Gomes are also absent but should return to training next week. Captain Phil Jagielka remains sidelined with a knee injury
Without sounding like a broken record, this is a game Everton have to win in order to stave off fears of yet another Goodison crisis. We are all ready to give Silva time and there’s no suggestion from anyone that his job is under threat. But we need results quickly ease the pressure and allow him the space to continue his rebuilding job.
Fulham will more than hold their own in the Premier League this season but after two desperately poor home results, anything other than an Everton win will be considered a massive disappointment.