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Has the Fulham first half gotten Everton back on track?

The ultimately nerve-wracking trip to Craven Cottage had its benefits

Everton’s English striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin (C) scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match
Photo by JOHN SIBLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Between the first and second international break, outside of the Liverpool match, Everton couldn’t find a point. While The Toffees seemed off the pace without Richarlison in the lineup, stagnant offensively with turgid defense sprinkled in at in opportune moments; this was no time to panic however. For as the long haul towards January earnestly begins, Everton found the form that has eluded them especially in the first half, with goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and new man, Abdoulaye Doucoure against Fulham on Sunday; these innovations, alongside the 3-4-3, better organization, fluidity, integration and communication, could not have been found at any better a time than now for the team.

For the weeks will pile on top of one another with increasing weight moving forward, and while Fulham FC was not particularly difficult for the Royal Blue, we have seen trap games emerge in this season already. But with this found form of sorts, the team can push through these difficult moments with the knowledge that they are in fact, capable of overcoming it together; these are precisely the understandings that Don Carlo and Big Dunc will have wanted the squad to realize, and so to have possibly relit the match at this juncture has potentially massive implications.

Massive Implications: Everton in November, December and Beyond

This first win was necessary, but it will be crucial to take nine points out of the first three matches leaving the second international break. Leeds United will be no easy task however, as their match against Arsenal this week demonstrated, for any club with Marcelo Bielsa as the boss, will be thoughtful and offensively dangerous; if there is any silver lining there, it’s that it’s at Goodison Park, and so we will have to play accordingly. Going to Turf Moor the week after will be a rough and tough program in contrast, where we will have to withstand their brutish methods if we are to score and play our type of offensive football.

Should nine points be in hand from those three matches, the succeeding nine points will be no easy stroll to acquire. Hosting Chelsea, before a quick trip to Leicester City is followed by a home matchup with Arsenal. With all three teams in different positions across the table, it is not entirely predictable the outcome we should expect but four points at the very minimum would be a positive take away. For this six game stretch therefore, thirteen points should be what we’re aiming for altogether; should we be able to bully more away, then so be it, but what we will need to demonstrate to this end, will need to be similar to the club that went to Craven Cottage and came out with three points, except even better.

Fulham v Everton - Premier League
Ben Godfrey of Everton is tackled by Tosin Adarabioyo of Fulham during the Premier League match
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

What it’s going to take for the Toffees during this Stretch

While it was and always is a pleasure to watch DCL strike the ball into the goal, it was great to see our new man Doucoure open his Toffee account as well. That sort of diversity of scoring will be crucial moving forward, as it has become obvious that Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin are our dangermen and therefore, teams are planning to their best ability to stop those two in particular. Alex Iwobi’s fluency was a welcome sight as well, and the application of greater wide options and help with Lucas Digne on the left appeared as key to the club’s success. I like the three in front of Pickford, and while that trio might not be what it was seen as at Craven Cottage, they demonstrated what the concept could do for the team; given some time, one could see some combination of four centrehalves in front of Jordan Pickford, with help being able to fall back when defensively necessary.

The diversity of the club and its weekly squad will be important in other words, because without it, not only is there no hope in victory, seemingly without playing Richarlison in every match, which we still must prove capable of doing, but there will be no individual or team growth either. While we need to appreciate our stars, we cannot wear them out or neglect to spread the wealth that is beautifully played football; that might mean that we find ourselves in the transfer market as has been discussed by myself previously, or even from the U-23 side.

We must continue to build, to layer our club should we wish to find success across stretches like the next six games, and even beyond that, seasons with four different campaigns stretching past February; if that is our ambition, then we must begin to not only play, but be structured in such a way as well. And so while this transformation takes place, we will have to be patient and simultaneously, aggressive towards taking advantage of the talent and potential we have right now.