Poor first half sets the mood
In their impressive three-game clean sheet streak, Everton had started their games fairly well. They scored early on in the wins against Arsenal and West Ham United, setting the tone for the rest of the match. But against Fulham it was Everton that played like the team set to be relegated.
Fulham essentially dominated Everton throughout the first half. They had the bulk of the scoring chances and seemed the more dangerous team throughout. A handful of near misses could have increased the score earlier, but some quick thinking by Jordan Pickford only delayed the inevitable. The second half wasn’t any better for Everton as they were unable to solve the Fulham puzzle during the halftime break.
Attack was poor throughout
One of the big improvements for Everton in the past few matches, their attack, was mostly absent against Fulham. The midfield trio of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bernard and Richarlison had been at their peak as of late, but were unable to crack one of the worst defenses in the league.
The best chance for Everton to claw their way back came courtesy of a Dominic Calvert-Lewin shot that trickled just wide in the second half. But that goal, much like a win, was not in the cards for Everton in this match. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s performance was one of the biggest shockers. The attacking midfielder who has been great this season was basically invisible in this match and rarely seemed to affect the game in a positive way.
The late game substitutions made by Marco Silva were unlikely to make an impact on this match and unsurprisingly Everton were unable to score in this match. Not every game can go the Toffees’ way but this was an incredibly disappointing performance.
Europa League spot still possible
Despite Everton’s ugly performance against Fulham, a Europa League spot is still in the cards. Leicester City and Wolverhampton, who both sit in front of Everton in the table lost their matches this week.
Wolves still have a game in hand against Everton and Leicester, but all three sides have some tough opponents ahead in their final matches. Everton will likely need to win their final four matches to have the best opportunity to grab that final Europa League spot, but Manchester United and Tottenham stand in their way.
Watford FC have two games in hand on the Blues and now appear to be favourites.
Their is an argument to be made that European competition might do more harm that good, as has been shown in previous seasons. But the allure of prize money and European experience for their players may be too much to resist for a team as ambitious as Everton.