Everton head to Craven Cottage on Saturday for a showdown with an in-form Fulham side that sits 7th in the Premier League table, just two points behind the Toffees. David Moyes’ side enters the match unbeaten in its last seven in the league but with three straight draws will be hungry to return to their early-season winning ways.
Moyes hopes his side will be boosted by Kevin Mirallas, who was substituted at half-time during last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool after suffering a nasty blow to the ankle. The Belgian will still need to pass a late fitness test but Evertonians hopes will be high as Moyes admitted Mirallas’ ankle was sore but not as bad as originally thought. The Toffees will also welcome the return of Steven Pienaar from his one match ban for receiving two yellows against QPR. One player who won’t be returning to the fold is Darron Gibson, who remains sidelined with a tendon problem at the top of his thigh.
Fulham will look to preserve its fine form at home where the Cottagers have won three of four matches (all shutouts) this season, the lone 2-1 loss coming at the hands of Edin Dzeko and Manchester City. Fulham will continue to be without Simon Davies and Mickael Tavares, who each have hip injuries, but both Chris Baird and Dimitar Berbetov will be ready to go despite rumors to the contrary.
This fixture has historically been one dominated by Everton, winning seven of the last ten encounters and only losing twice. Last season saw the Toffees cruise to a 3-1 victory at the Cottage and a 4-0 blanking at Goodison, while also adding a 2-1 home victory in the 4th Round of the FA Cup.
BOVADA.LV MATCH ODDS
Fulham Money Line (Must Win In 90 Mins): +160
Fulham Pick (Draw = Push; Win = Win): -115
Everton Money Line (Must Win In 90 Mins): +160
Everton Pick (Draw = Push; Win = Win): -115
Over/Under 2.5 Goals: -135/+105
First Goalscorer: Dimitar Berbetov 6/1, Hugo Rodallega 13/2, Bryan Ruiz 15/2; Nikica Jelavic 11/2, Marouane Fellaini 13/2, Kevin Mirallas 7/1
The bookies don’t see any separation between the two sides so the smart money here is to play the pick for whichever club you favor. While both sides have plenty of motivation to snatch all three points, Evertonians like myself will feel that this clash represents a ‘must-win’ situation if the Toffees are to continue to have European aspirations. But regardless of where your allegiances fall these two evenly-matched squads should provide a thrilling 90 minutes of football.
Final Score: Everton 2, Fulham 1.