Everton are not in a slump but it is fair to say that they have been going through a lacklustre period in the last few games resulting in a number of draws, says Dave Martin.
While a point in the Derby was ultimately a decent result considering the poor start and controversial finish, the failure to beat both Wigan and QPR is a concern. It would be over dramatic of me to say that a draw against Fulham would be catastrophic but it is fair to say that anything less than a win would mean that any momentum our good start has given us, would be in danger of slowing down if not quite coming to a complete stop.
Hopefully, David Moyes is using Steven Gerrard’s ridiculous and now withdrawn comments regarding Everton’s style of play in his team talk on Saturday. We have been playing some varied, fluid and attractive stuff so far and hopefully such comments will drive the team on as they seek victory against a difficult and improved Fulham side.
It would appear that we still have some injury concerns to contend with with Darron Gibson all but ruled out for another week and Kevin Mirallas touch and go at the moment. While we have become almost used to Gibson’s absence of late he is sorely missed and if Mirallas isn’t quite ready after Suarez’s cynical foul on him in the Derby, it would be a big blow to our chances of picking up all three points. While we are so lightweight in the middle and weak at the back it’s important that we maximise our attacking threat and keep a creative Fulham team’s opportunities to a minimum. In Steven Pienaar’s enforced absence in the Derby, Mirallas stepped up in the first half as a major attacking force and with Pienaar returning, having a threat from both flanks would give us the best chance of opening Fulham up. Steven Naismith did well on the right in patches showing intelligence and vision but he does like that pace and directness that opens defences up although it does look like he will be a good option for rotation and injury.
With Fulham showing some good form of late this won’t be an easy game for Everton and as such it’s important we take our chances. Nikica Jelavic has been uncharacteristically anonymous of late looking a little off the pace although to be fair he has had little service. It would be nice if Anichebe could make it to the bench so the obviously tired Croatian could be substituted as and when he starts to struggle. It is important Fellaini is fitter than he was for the Derby as he too can take some of the load off Jelavic.
This is a difficult game to call as our lineup is difficult to call with a number of players on the borderline of fitness and injury. It is a game we should be winning on paper but the on paper games are the ones we have been struggling in of late and our record against Fulham Away is far from great. At the moment I think I would take and expect a narrow victory but hope that Everton can get rolling again and win more convincingly. Come On You Blues.