The Toffees were desperately poor against Luton on Saturday, just as they were when the two sides met back in September, where Everton also conceded both goals from set pieces in a 2-1 defeat.
With Abdoulaye Doucoure still absent Sean Dyche experimented with 4-4-2 and went direct to Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Beto, but it just didn’t work (again like it didn’t work against the Hatters in September either).
With no return date yet given for Doucoure, Dyche has to try and find a system that works in his absence or risk being sucked into the bottom three.
Everton’s early cup exit means that after Tuesday there is only one scheduled midweek game between now and the end of the season (excluding Crystal Palace, which was moved from Saturday to Monday). That one-game-a-week schedule should hopefully ease the burden on a small squad that has shown it cannot cope with even a handful of injuries.
Fulham face the Toffees just a month after they won on penalties at Goodison to progress through to the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
The Cottagers used to be nice opponents for Everton, but that has changed since they returned to the top flight in 2020.
The Toffees just lost one of 13 meetings between 2010 and 2019, but have won just one and lost three out of six meetings since 2020, not including the 1-1 Carabao Cup draw that resulted in a shootout defeat.
Everton 1-1 Fulham, 19 December 2023
The Toffees suffered an agonising 8-7 penalty shootout defeat against Fulham when the teams last met in the last right of the Carabao Cup last month. Beto’s late leveller cancelled out Michael Keane’s own goal, but Amadou Onana’s penalty miss in the shootout proved costly.
Abdoulaye Doucoure remains sidelined with a hamstring injury that is also likely to keep him out of Saturday’s game against Spurs. Andre Gomes is also out with a troubling calf issue, while Seamus Coleman will be a late call as he battles a hamstring injury.
What they said
Everton manager Sean Dyche: “Fulham had a slow start this season because I thought we were excellent against them. But they got a result. I thought we were also excellent against them in the cup, and they got a result again, which is not ideal, obviously.
“I think Fulham have grown into the season and found a bit more balance to how they play and how the manager wants them to play.
“They generally have a good home record, and it’s never easy going away in the Premier League, anyway. But our away record is strong, so we want to go down there and whatever team we can put together, we want a team that can win the game.”
Fulham boss Marco Silva: “All the respect to Everton, away from home they have been one of the strongest sides so far this season. They have been achieving a really, really good number of points away from home.
“The position they are in is not important for us, we look for ourselves, focus on ourselves. There are three points there to fight for and we are going to do our maximum to get the three points, knowing that they are a dangerous side.
“In many, many ways, away from home they have been achieving points. We know what they are capable of doing, it’s going to demand from ourselves a very good night because we need to win the game.”
This is a tough game coming just three days after that disappointing Luton defeat. The team is stretched and their form is poor. It is about battling and scrapping for every point they can.