Match Preview: Fulham (H)

Surely this will be the one where our luck turns around? Where we won’t have any more injuries or receive petty red cards, concede any offside goals or be denied blatant penalties?

Everton performed well enough against Arsenal last week, particularly in the first half, to persuade fans that we might be able to get something out of this one. We pegged back one of the so-called ‘big six’ away from home, creating chance after chance that we just couldn’t put away.

Despite the lack of quality in front of goal, there is a sense that some time soon, things are going to click together for Marco Silva and his team. There is enough promise in there – we finally have some pace up front, a handful of promising young centre-backs, a quality left-back in his best years, a world-class goalkeeper, options in midfield, and the style of play that fans had so desperately wished for during the painful tenure of Sam Allardyce.

The Blues face Fulham at the weekend, a team who, this season, have faced more shots than a first-year student during Freshers’ Week. Jokes aside, Fulham recruited very well in the summer, acquiring some top-class players in the likes of Andre Schurrle, Alfie Mawson and Jean-Michael Seri, to add to their existing quality such as Ryan Sessegnon and (now on a permanent deal but yet another example of their recent good business) Aleksandar Mitrovic. They sit just one point behind Everton in the table and have scored as many goals as us.

However, they have had some defensive issues at the beginning of this season, shipping 13 goals in six Premier League games, and Silva’s side will look to take advantage of those on Saturday.

But surely to do so, Richarlison has to start down the middle. Cenk Tosun is enduring a tough run of form and Dominic Calvert-Lewin struggled at times against Arsenal, and surely Oumar Niasse won’t start the game. Marco Silva admitted in his pre-match press conference that the young Brazilian has been used in a central role in training this week, also conceding that starting Bernard on the left in his place could be the right move to make.

The captaincy issue is another one that will be in focus this weekend, with Tom Davies leading his team out last time out, but the potential return of Morgan Schneiderlin after some personal issues could threaten his place in the starting eleven. Silva also said that Phil Jagielka was back in contention to face the Cottagers, but decent performances from Kurt Zouma and the returning Michael Keane last weekend could keep the club captain out of the team.

Yerry Mina was expected to be fit to make his Everton debut on Saturday, but reports emerged on Thursday night that he had suffered a recurrence of a broken metatarsal. Silva allayed these fears in the press conference, though, telling the media that another of the new boys, Bernard, had accidentally stamped on him in training and that he would be out for a week or so, but it’s not as serious as first thought.

Theo Walcott is expected to start the game, eyepatch or not, with Jonjoe Kenny for company on the right hand side. Both Kenny and Lucas Digne have been caught out on the break in recent performances, but have proved a real threat in terms of getting the ball into the box. Hopefully this threat can continue, allowing the wingers to cut inside and play more as inside forwards, whether it be a combination of Richarlison, Bernard, or Walcott.

Everton have a chance here to begin to build some momentum ahead of a tough run of fixtures, and hopefully we manage to grab it with both hands and finish our chances off tomorrow back at Goodison Park. Come on you Blues!

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