After yet another highly action packed and contentious derby against our neighbours, Everton face another tough game travelling down to London to face an impressive Fulham side. Both sides have started the season well with Everton sitting in 5th and Fulham close behind sitting nicely in 7th, 2pts behind Everton. After a flying start to the season for Everton, Everton have suffered a bumpy few last games, although they are currently 6 games unbeaten, the last 3 have ended in disappointing draws, including the dramatic 2-2 draw with Liverpool. Fulham was involved in an entertaining draw also, being held by Reading 3-3. Both sides will be looking at the 3pts to maintain their solid form as well as keeping close to the 4th spot, which seems to be a wide open race at the moment.
Everton and England international Phil Jagielka had this to say on upcoming opponents Fulham
‘It’s always a tough game at Fulham. Up until recently, we haven’t normally picked up many points there, but we have had a few decent results in the last couple of years and hopefully we can build on that. Martin Jol has a fantastic team at the moment – especially at home where they score a lot of goals. We’ll be doing our homework this week and hopefully we’ll come out on top on Saturday.’
Fulham’s Sascha Riether complimented teammate Dimitar Berbatov saying
“We know that Berba`s a great player and we saw that again [at Reading]. His goal was unbelievable. He can always keep the ball and he`s a very important player for us. We saw when he was not there – when he was injured and did not play – that we did not have the player at the front who could keep the ball for us, and it`s good to have him back. Our game is to always play to Berba`s feet.”
Fulham Team News:
For the hosts, former Evertonian Simon Davies will miss the match with a hip injury. Defender Chris Baird is also a doubt after picking up an ankle injury. However, most worrying for the London side is the fitness of Dimitar Berbatov, it was revealed during the week that he is suffering from a broken rib against Reading, however, should be fit for the match.
Possible Starting XI: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Duff, Sidwell, Diarra, Richardson, Berbatov, Rodallega
Player to watch: Dimitar Berbatov
In what was one of the big surprises of the transfer window, former United striker Berbatov joined Fulham for 4mil. He hasn’t disappointed either scoring a couple goals already for Fulham. Always much aligned due to his lazy appearance and seemingly absent work rate, Berbatov lives off scoring, he has an impeccable scoring ratio for Spurs and United and looks set to continue with Fulham. Everton defenders can ill afford to give the Bulgarian time and space, because his ability is up their with the best, and he will punish Everton dearly.
Everton Team News:
Everton will be boosted by the return of Steven Pienaar after he missed the derby through suspension. In some more good news for the visitors, Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas, who was without doubt Everton’s best paler in the derby looks set to be fit despite coming off at halftime in the game due to an ankle injury. However, Darron Gibson will once again miss the match with a continuous and niggling thigh injury that has seen him miss 6 league matches so far.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Mirallas, Fellaini, Jelavic
Player to watch: Kevin Mirallas
The Belgian winger was in superb form for Everton in the Merseyside derby, provided the creativity that was lost through the absence of Pienaar and he gave Liverpool trouble the entire first half with his direct thinking. Wouldn’t even hesitate to say, had he not been injured, Everton would have gone on to win the game. Offers Everton something we have lacked for the large majority of Moyes’ tenure, that is pace, directness, trickery and the ability and the want to take on players and have a shot. With the return of Pienaar, fans will be hoping to see Pienaar and Mirallas torment defenders week in week out.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Everton have only lost twice in the last 14 away games, one of which was a defeat to Liverpool with a reserve side and the other being West Brom earlier in the season
2. Everton have had the edge in this fixture recently winning 7 of the past 9, which including a double last season
3. If Pienaar returns to the starting line up it will be the South Africans 150th start for Everton.
4. Everton manager David Moyes currently holds the lead 5 wins to 4 against counterpart Martin Jol
5. In Everton’s last 4 games, they have scored 13 goals from open play, all of which have come in the 1st half.
6. In the last 4 league games, Everton’s opposition were the ones to score first, impressively Everton didn’t lose any of those matches, fighting back to earn 1 win and 3 draws
Despite Everton sitting comfy in 5th, they haven’t been anywhere to what they were at the start of the season, it has resulted in 3 pretty disappointing draws against QPR, Wigan and Liverpool, and they have had to come from behind in each of those matches to snatch a draw, however, if we want to challenge for 4th spot, we need to be taking 3pts. So obviously, the start will be of upmost importance for Everton, can ill afford to give any side a head start and Fulham are impressive at home and if given the lead will be a tough nut to crack. Return of Pienaar will provide a massive boost for Everton, and given Mirallas’ form, I would say that Everton have a bit too much quality for Fulham, however, saying that, will sit on the fence and say a 2-2 draw with Jelavic and Mirallas for Everton and Berbatov and Ruiz for Fulham. COYB!!! WE NEED THE WIN, SICK OF THESE DRAWS!!!!