Everton V Fulham: Tactical Match Preview

    After a near perfect week for the Blues, it’s time to have a quick rest and then head into the busy Christmas schedule, one that should see us looking for a lot of points. The opposition to start off this little run is Fulham.



    The toughest fixture week of the seasons has been and gone, and Everton are now unbeaten in 8 Premier League games, winning 4 of these. Now comes a bundle of very winnable games, and it will be massive to any Martinez aspirations that we pick up maximum points in most of these.

    The Blues stuck with the same side against Man United and Arsenal, and it’s fair to say that by the end of the latter game, some players were looking a little fatigued (blowing out their arse). LukakuPienaar and Barkley being the main culprits. After a week’s rest, these players will need to return and be back on top form. The starting eleven will unfortunately have to be missing someone, in James McCarthy. The midfielder who has taken everyone by storm picked up his fifth yellow card against the Gunners on Sunday and will now miss the Fulham game through suspension. This leads to two obvious option replacements for Martinez, with Osman and Deulofeu the players that have been used most out of the remaining squad in recent weeks. I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t a like-for-like swap, Osman in for McCarthy, but with Martinez it has been near impossible to predict what he’ll spring next. I’d certainly love to see him go with a similar side to what finished in the Merseyside Derby, with Barkley alongside the experienced Barry and Deulofeu coming in behind the striker, a position he likes to take up even when he’s meant to be deployed on the wing. This would see a very attacking side take on a side that is likely to defend deep and will need more attacking players to help break them down.

    Expected Team:


    What I’d like to see:


    Under new manager René Meulensteen this weekend, the Cottagers managed to end their terrible run of 6 straight defeats after defeating an equally terrible Villa side at home. They may not see our game as a huge game to gain points from, and so expectations will be low, although I’d expect Meulensteen to set them up very defensively and look to counter.

    In the home win against Villa, Fulham still set up very solidly, with three flat central midfielders in Parker, Sidwell and Karagounis. The attacking was left freely to Kacaniklic, Dejagah and most importantly, Berbatov. The former United striker has been under par this season and is rumoured to want away as soon as possible. However, he has shown signs of life in the two games under Meulensteen so far, providing an assist against Tottenham and then beautifully setting up and duly dispatching a cool penalty against Villa, a game in which he was prominent throughout. After that win and an already comfortable defensive set up, I’d be very surprised if Fulham didn’t stick with a winning side.

    Expected Team:

    Tactical Analysis

    Open Fulham?

    With players like Scott Parker, Giorgos Karagounis and Steve Sidwell, you’d expect a fair showing of tackles, interceptions and fouls in Fulham’s games this season. This has not been the case. Fulham have averaged very low in comparison to other Premier League teams on all 3 of these aspects in games so far this season. This has lead to them conceding the most shots on goal (19.2 pg), a figure which jumps up even more when they go away from home (22.7 pg). It could be suggested that Meulentseen is attempting to rectify his predecessors sins, as these combative stats have jumped up in the two games that the new man has take charge of. Either way, this plays massively into Everton‘s hands. Don’t make challenges on the likes of BarkleyPienaarMirallas and possibly Deulofeu and you’ll have trouble from open play, whereas if you do make challenges, you are likely to give away a lot of freekicks, hopefully one that would be costly.

    Key Areas

    There is only one key area for me this week and it’s how this week’s travelling side cope with Everton‘s midfield presence. As aforementioned, Fulham are likely to go in with three solid midfield players, and it will be up to the Blues to try and break them down. With players like Barkley,MirallasColeman and Deulofeu placed high up in the successful dribble tables, it will be really important to make sure we try and run at them all game, causing them to either open up or pick up cautions which result in dangerous freekick situations. We saw high quality examples of this by the latter two players in the 4-0 drubbing of Stoke. Barkley and Pienaar are also fouled very often in games, and so Fulham are going to find it very difficult to make challenges consistently.

    Everton Dominance?

    Of course I’m playing a very risky game, but statistically speaking, everything lines up for Everton dominance in this game. Of course, dominance isn’t always the key outcome, goals are. Still, Everton generally have 55% possession at home games, whereas Fulham average around 42%. The Blues have around 16 shots per home game, and Fulham have averaged a lousy 5.


    In recent years, this would be a typical Everton loss. After a good week of results, a home banker should be on the cards but as we all know, this was never the case under Moyes. Hopefully Martinez can change this, can break down the sides that put every man behind the ball and can get us to beat the sides we should. If he can, we have the recipe for success because the Spaniard has shown this week that he can get results against the top sides as well. COYB.

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