Everton host a mid table matchup against Fulham on Saturday with the Blues looking to continue their recent up turn in league form with another 3 points in a league fixture which the Blues have won 17 times on the spin……..
The Cottager’s under Mark Hughes have been tough to beat. They are compact and heavily focused on defensive shape, as was the style under previous boss Woy Hodgson. Thus, a lot of their matches have been tight – they have Drawn 8 out of 14 games away from home and only Manchester City have conceded fewer goals on their travels . They are limited up front also and only Wigan has scored fewer on the road.
Their top creative force is Simon Davies with more assists (4) and more chances created (46) than any other Fulham player. Clint Dempsey is their most potent performer this campaign with 37 shots on target – only Tevez and Drogba have had more in the top flight – unsurprisingly he is their top scorer with an impressive 9 goals . He will start left midfield but you will see him coming inside when Fulham have the ball on the right flank. Former Blue Andy Johnson will lead the line for Fulham, although in his last 58 league appearance the speedy forward has scored just 9 times. I would expect Fulham to setup 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 with Murphy and Etuhu anchoring midfield and the wide men in midfield tucking in.
Everton have no new injury worries for this one and the only real dilemma would be whether Phil Neville returns at right back for HIbbert or anchor for Heitinga. Although Heitinga scored a great goal in our last match, for me Hibbert’s display was superior and I would retain him and restore Neville to the midfield. The creative burden of Mikel Arteta’s injury will fall on our left side with Baines width and Osman’s movement inside key to our chances of breaking down what will be a stubborn Fulham defence. The key man to stop is Dempsey cutting in from the left side – Coleman and Hibbert will need to ensure his movement is tracked throughout.
Fulham offer little going forward on their travels and this for me will be a similar game to last time out at home to Birmingham – can Everton break down a stubborn defence with the limited flair we are going to be able to select in tomorrow’s midfield? Can we cut out the comedy defending from crosses which has blighted our season? I’m not too confident we will and think this could be a frustrating 1-1 draw.