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Everton vs Fulham: The Opposition View | Cottagers looking for away upset

We spoke to Whites fan and podcaster Max Cohen prior to the Valentine’s Day Goodison clash

(SP)BRITAIN-LONDON-FOOTBALL-PREMIER LEAGUE-FULHAM VS EVERTON
Everton won 3-2 at Fulham in November’s reverse fixture
Xinhua/Han Yan via Getty Images

Everton will be after their first home league since in almost two months when they host Scott Parker’s Fulham on Sunday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men saw off Tottenham in Wednesday’s 5-4 FA Cup thriller at Goodison Park, but have not won at home in the league since they beat Arsenal in mid-December.

Fulham have certainly improved as the season has gone on, but have found getting over the line in games difficult; they have not won in 12 league matches and sit 18th, eight points adrift of safety.

They have not won at Goodison since a 2-1 FA Cup victory in February 1975, and have lost each of their last 12 visits to the ground in all competitions.

Ahead of Sunday’s match, we spoke to Max Cohen, contributor to the Cottage Talk podcast at SB Nation’s Fulham blog, Cottagers Confidential:

RBM: Firstly, despite looking far better than when they were previously in the Premier League two years ago, Fulham have won fewer games and are further adrift of safety than at this stage last time. How much faith do you have in them staying up?

Max: Sadly, I’m quite pessimistic at the moment of our odds of staying up. We simply can’t seem to win matches and that lack of cutting edge is killing us.

We need to do the double over Burnley if we are to stand any chance of survival — but everything looks unlikely when we’ve only won twice all season.

Fulham v Leicester City - Premier League
Fulham have a fight on their hands to avoid an immediate relegation
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

RBM: Scott Parker at least seems to still have a lot of support at Fulham. Would you stick with him even if Fulham go down?

Max: Personally, I would not hesitate to keep Parker even if we go down. He’s done a superb job as a young manager in a very tough environment.

He can only improve and he’s shown he can marshal a Premier League team into a tough side to beat. Now, he just needs to work on setting his side up to score more goals.

RBM: Fulham did a lot of good business in the summer but left it extremely late. Their director of football, Tony Khan, seems extremely divisive - where do you stand on him?

Max: I think he needs to either step away from his duties at his wrestling company [All Elite Wrestling] or he needs to step away from Fulham. It’s unacceptable that he has another full-time sporting job and is also our director of football.

I think he did great business this summer, but left it late and also left glaring holes in our attack. That’s to be expected when one isn’t fully focused on the job.

Fulham v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Play Off: First Leg
Tony Khan’s father, Shahid, is the owner of Fulham
Photo by Craig Mercer - CameraSport via Getty Images

RBM: Two players who seem to have impressed for Fulham this season have been former Everton men in Ademola Lookman and Antonee Robinson. What have you made of them?

Max: Lookman has shown flashes of being an absolutely top-class Premier League footballer at times, but sometimes can drift out of matches and become isolated on the left wing. He clearly has superb talent but needs to work on his end product, and it’s easy to see why it hasn’t worked out for him at bigger clubs with more pressure to produce.

Robinson has quickly become a fan favourite and looks to be a real steal at about £2 million. His pace is a huge asset and means he can bomb forward from his favoured left wing-back position. His defending is largely solid, but his crossing does need improvement.

RBM: Aleksandar Mitrovic hasn’t scored for Fulham since September, and isn’t as regular a starter as he used to be. Is it simply down to him not suiting the way Parker wants to play?

Max: Mitrovic has had a tough year, battling injury and a loss of form. He’s lacking confidence massively and he isn’t the mobile, hard-pressing striker Parker ideally wants to lead the line.

It’s a real shame he’s failed to kick off this season, as he was our only recognised striker until Josh Maja was brought in.

Fulham v West Ham United - Premier League
Mitrovic has only scored twice in the league this term
Photo by Adam Davy - Pool/Getty Images

RBM: Parker has often opted for a back five in recent months, and while that seems to have improved Fulham defensively, is it now proving a hindrance going forward?

Max: More defenders always lead to a less free-flowing side. Our defence has been excellent, but as you noted, it has harmed our attacking creativity.

The return of Tom Cairney (hopefully) in the coming weeks should add that burst of forward-thinking flair, but until then, I expect us to struggle to score goals.

RBM: How do you expect Fulham to set up on Sunday? Do they have to go all-out to win this given the size of the gap with safety?

Max: I think Parker will stick with his classic five-at-the-back formation and likely play to keep it 0-0 as long as possible, and then go for the killer final goal with ten minutes to go.

Fulham v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Scott Parker and Fulham are running out of time to save themselves
Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

RBM: Which of Fulham’s players do you think could cause Everton the most problems?

Max: Keep an eye out for Robinson’s dangerous runs from the left, as well as for our top scorer Bobby Decordova-Reid to pop up in some good positions from the right.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Sunday’s game?

Max: Fulham will jump out to a surprise lead, before being pegged back and ultimately hanging on for dear life for a 1-1 draw.

Our thanks to Max for his time.