The Blues recorded a 20th successive home win over Fulham in a rather strange 1 – 0 result.
Future Everton captain Phil Jagielka returned to the side, recovering from the re-opened gash against Arsenal. Darron Gibson didn’t make the squad though after feeling a thigh injury against Sunderland last week. Boss David Moyes went with two strikers in Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe, with Marouane Fellaini and Leon Osman occupying the centre of midfield.
Jagielka returned to the Everton back line.
Fulham made only one change, with Karagounis coming in for the suspended Steve Sidwell.
The game started off as it continued throughout the 90 minutes, with Everton dominance. It seemed Fulham weren’t there to get the three points, but only to make up the numbers. Although Everton dominated, there were no real clear cut chance until the first and only goal of the game after 15 minutes. In some great build up play, Osman fed Coleman out wide, who received it back and then played the Irish right-back behind the Fulham defence, where he then pulled it back to a waiting Steven Pienaar to coolly slot home.
In the first half Everton played some of their best football of the season. The link up play from Baines, Pienaar, Fellaini and even Jelavic who otherwise had an awful day was brilliant to watch, and created two further chances for the home side. Although the Blues were in complete dominance, this was actually nearly a hinderance to the Everton side as things somehow became too easy and complacency crept in. Fulham nearly made this pay as just before half time, Kacaniklic delivered a great ball across that substitute Petric nearly converted.
Although Jelavic had another off day, he was involved in some good link up play.
In the second half, Everton’s play didn’t match the first half but all the same were in complete control. The match had a feel of an end of the season nothing game, even though boss David Moyes said the team were still up for the challenge and were going to try and win every game. There was always a chance that a narrow 1-0 lead wasn’t going to be enough, so Everton did have a small amount of pressure where they could have scored 2 more goals. Baines whipped in a fantastic ball that beat Mark Schwarzer in the air, and with Fellaini at the back post with the goal gaping, a simple tap-in went over the bar. Substitute Ross Barkley also got through on goal, but hit his shot at a comfortable height for Schwarzer to this time save well.
The game ended and Fulham’s awful record at Goodison Park continued, with Everton only needing a point in the derby next week to finish above rivals Liverpool in what would be a small consolation compared to some Evertonians start of season expectations. The Blues do lie only 3 points behind Tottenham though, and if the yids drop more points, 5th could still very much be on with a good result across the park next week.