If Everton are to achieve their goal of European qualification they can’t afford to fall at the final hurdle. The Toffees saw a six-match unbeaten run ended with defeat at Sunderland last weekend and David Moyes will hope it, along with a number of flat performances from several of his key players, is only a minor blip. For all intents and purposes it has been a campaign of solid consistency from the Merseyside club and it will be a shame to see their quest for a top-six finish blow up in smoke at this late stage. The 2-0 win against Manchester City and 2-2 draw at Tottenham proved they can mix it with the Premier League’s best but its now a matter of believing they belong in the divisions upper echelons.
Fulham, on the other hand, have tailed off ever since their top-flight status was certified at the beginning of the month. Since beating QPR 3-2 on the first day of April they haven’t tasted victory in the four games since, picking up just a point in that sequence, and find their season tailing off into nothing. Sadly for manager Martin Jol the Cottagers don’t usually fare too well in the blue half of Merseyside and haven’t managed a win in their last 24 league visits.
Everton will assess Darron Gibson (thigh) and Victor Anichebe (hamstring) before kick-off after both failed to see out the loss at Sunderland. Phil Jagielka is also a doubt but right-back Tony Hibbert is back in contention and could take a place on the bench.
Fulham should have Damien Duff back from a thigh injury, but are without Steven Sidwell for the remainder of the season as he begins a four-match suspension. Emmanuel Frimpong is back after being unable to play against parent club Arsenal last week, while Sascha Riether (ankle) is a doubt.
What the managers said…
“I think Fulham have improved in recent weeks. They’ve had a few very good away results – winning at Spurs and I think they were a bit unfortunate to lose at Newcastle. ”They have one or two dangerous players and we’ll need to be mindful of that.” David Moyes admits he is wary of the threat Fulham will pose to Everton (evertonfc.com)
“People ask me ‘is it easy to inspire your players or to motivate each other?’” But if you saw us play against Chelsea and Arsenal you saw that we were very dedicated and very energetic to try to get results. [But] we didn’t, for other reasons.” Martin Jol dismisses suggestions his Fulham players already have one eye on the summer break (fulhamfc.com)
Pre-match Statistic: Everton are unbeaten in the last 19 home league games against Fulham.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Fulham