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Venue: Craven Cottage, W. London
Premiership
 4 November 2006; 12:45pm
Jensen (65')
Half Time: 0-0
 
Attendance: 23,327
Fixture 11
Referee: Martin Atkinson

Match Summary

The Everton team pretty-much picked itself, with Valente taking a place on the bench whole Lescott continued to fill in at left-back.  David Moyes promised attacking football, and attacking football is what we got, with the Blues swarming forward again and again against a somewhat bewildered Fulham. Everton totally dominant in the first half... so the goals would flow, right?

Wrong. Everton had chances, it's true, but they were not very clear-cut: 

  • A good cross found Johnson alone on goal but the ball was at an awkward height and he could only hit it into the turf
  • Osman peeled away nicely and should really have scored with a header that Neimi saved... but he was incorrectly blown for offside.
  • Arteta ran half the length of the field, but failed to even look up and see Johnson inside him; six defenders finally forcing the corner

But their build-up play was continually thwarted by niggling fouls from the home defenders that went unpunished, terrible offside calls that weren't, and a perhaps marginal penalty call that might have been given in an other game... but not this one as the match officials sought to deny both Johnson and Cahill the protection and fair decisions they both need to really play their game.

Fulham must have been given a right old Welsh bollocking by by Chris Coleman at half-time and they came out determined to take the game to Everton, making it even more difficult for the Moyes gameplan to be implemented.  They nearly scored on 55 minutes, a good cross and a fierce header forcing an excellent save low down by Howard.  The game needed something different like Anichebe's power and running but Moyes was reluctant to do anything until well after the hour mark.

And Everton paid the price on 65 mins, with Fulham taking a lead, underserved on the match, but fully expected following their lively start to the second half, a Jenson shot cruelly deflecting off Carsley, looping up and well out of reach of a despairing Howard into the far corner of the goal.

A disgusting incident a little later saw some coin-throwing imbecile in the crowd hit Claus Jensen just below the eye as he was about to take a corner in front of the Everton fans.  Ignoring Moyes's ridiculous post-match claim that it could have been thrown by a Fulham fan(!!!), the idiocy of such actions by a so-called Everton fan beggars belief, and may one day see the club docked points automatically.

Arteta got away with a shocking and utterly stupid elbow to Radzinski's neck, as Beattie(!) finally came on for the utterly frustrating Simon Davies.  Beattie had a pop at goal from out wide but it was off target.  However, he was noticeable in running back to play his part in the defence, which have left him playing too deep when possession was regained.

With five mins (that turned into 10 mins) left, Anichebe came on for Carsley, and Everton looked a little bit better, but still could not get the ball in the net.  It was really far too late for Victor's bustling pressing game, excellent movement and physical power all things Everton glaringly lacked going forward.

So, the first game in which Everton fail to score this season, the goal drought continues for Johnson, only one win in seven games.... The wonderful start to the season is well and truly over.  It was a nice mini-revival while it lasted, giving us hope and dreams of Europe.  But, on the evidence of this display, we simply don't have enough to progress.  Johnson and Cahill can all too easily be found out or neutralized, and without them on song, we have no firepower.

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

After 40 years without a win at Craven Cottage there were high hopes that the Everton of 2006/07 could finally overcome Fulham on their own turf and earn only their second away win of a season that had started with such promise but is now in danger of slipping into a familiar pattern under David Moyes.

The manager had promised a more attacking strategy than that employed at Arsenal a week before for the first hour at least, he made good on that pledge. The Blues dominated the majority of this game and had an embarrassingly large share of possession in the first half but, they could not find their way past Fulham's defence and slipped to their second defeat of the campaign.

As expected, Moyes named an unchanged line-up and opted for Andy Johnson as the lone striker. Nuno Valente resumed training midweek but was not deemed fit enough to start and had to be content with a place on the bench as Joleon Lescott continued at left back.

Everton came out of the gates strongly and with the passing game much in evidence. Confident and fluid, they looked every inch the top-six side looking to take maximum points from their inferior hosts. And it didn't take long for them to threaten the Fulham goal, Johnson's attempted cross swerving dangerously towards goal and forcing Antti Niemi to tip the ball behind for a corner.

10 minutes later, Phil Neville's long throw was flicked on invitingly but the ball wouldn't drop quickly enough for Johnson and he failed to get decent purchase as he swiveled and dispatched a half-volley that nevertheless required action by Niemi to palm it wide. From the resulting corner there was a suspicion of handball before the clearance but nothing was given.

The Blues continued probing against a Fulham side spending an inordinate amount of time in their own half and a lovely interchange of passes involving Mikel Arteta ended with Johnson being released down the right side of the penalty area. As he touched it beyond Pearce he was felled by contact from the defender but made the most of it and the referee waved play on.

If that wasn't deemed a penalty by the officials, neither was the incident five minutes later when Bocanegra had his arm around Cahill's throat as they challenged for a ball from the right. Again, Cahill reacted more theatrically than was necessary and nothing was given... not that they seem to give penalties for defenders climbing all over attackers these days.

With half an hour gone, the telecast's on-screen graphics screamed the impressive possessions stats for those first 30 minutes. Everton, the away side lest we forget, had enjoyed 71% of the ball but had nothing to show for their dominance. Indeed, there was a worrying lack of clear chances being created by Moyes's men.

Two more half chances presented themselves before the break, though; first when a corner from the right flashed across the box and just eluded Cahill, and then when Cahill picked out Johnson with a great cross but the striker was stretching for it and could only side-foot narrowly over the crossbar.

Fulham, meanwhile, managed their first and only serious effort on goal two minutes into first-half injury time when Brian McBride held off two defenders before shooting from close range but Tim Howard made a comfortable save by his right-hand post.

The same pattern continued for the first third of the second half, although it was the home side who had the only meaningful attempt on goal during that period when Pearce headed a free kick goalwards and Howard saved well. It was around this time that Everton began to lose control of the game. Fulham, who were no doubt castigated for a limp first half display, grew in confidence the longer the game went on without the Blues scoring.

Then, after a Tomasz Radzinski cross had been headed well wide by McBride, the Cottagers made the fortuitous breakthrough. Claus Jensen was allowed to jink inside by Cahill and he had time to measure a side-footer from 25 yards that took a decisive deflection off Lee Carsley's out-stretched leg, looped over the despairing reach of Howard and into the back of the net. 1-0, entirely against the run of play but not altogether unexpected. That's just the way things go for Everton at Craven Cottage.

At this point, the Everton performance was crying out for change, the most likely to shake things up being the introduction of Victor Anichebe. Instead, after five further minutes, Moyes threw James Beattie on in place of the mostly ineffective Simon Davies as the Blues set about trying to salvage something from a game they had looked like winning comfortably based on the early going.

Cahill escaped a red card when the officials failed to spot a deliberate elbow on Radzinski as the pair went in for a challenge, Jensen fired wide from a direct free kick and Beattie's only real contribution to proceedings was an audacious attempt to curl the ball around the 'keeper following a sublime layoff by Johnson.

Everton's best chance of the game, though, arrived eight minutes from time when Arteta released Johnson but he was thwarted by a terrific double save by Niemi, the second a block made with his out-stretched glove as he scrambled to prevent the equaliser.

And that was pretty much it. Anichebe did make his entrance with five minutes of regular time remaining and although that turned to 10 minutes with injury time added on, he wasn't able to make any impact as Everton had by this point lost their way a little.

The result was an enormously frustrating one. Just as they did here last season, the Blues came to Fulham, were easily the better side in all departments in the first half but ended up losing in the second after the home side had soaked up the pressure and managed to hit back with an improved second-half display.

If anything, Moyes's side were even better this time around — not surprising as they clearly are suprerior to last season's squad —but the lack of geniune goalscoring chances coupled with poor final balls and the gradual evaporation of attacking ideas raise questions over just how much improved the Blues of 2006/07 are over those of earlier seasons under the current management.

Certainly, the brand of football on display is, on balance, better than anything we've seen from a Moyes team but the cutting edge is still lacking, despite the presence of Cahill and Johnson.

Indeed, Johnson's form and the current goal drought he is battling through, is perhaps of greatest concern. As the lone striker he is obviously the main target when the Blues go forward but it also means he has at least two defenders with which to contend at all times so it takes precisely measured passes to release him into the space on which he thrives. Then, of course, there is the question of whether or not he will deliver; most recently he has displayed a lack of clinical finishing which his manager will hopefully look to address in the coming weeks.

So, more points dropped from a fixture from which we should be looking to get all three if we are seriously thinking of stealing into the Champions League qualifiers again. Certainly, that is not out of the question at this relatively early stage, but the team has to start getting things right pretty quickly if this isn't going to turn into another mediocre mid-season let-down.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

It's back to the Capital for David Moyes's Everton following last weekend's hard-earned draw at Arsenal which ended a horrendous run of results for the Toffees on the Gunners' home turf.

The performance may not have won the Blues many fans but the ends justified the means and it preserved their record of having lost just once so far this season.  The flip side of that, though, is that Moyes's side have only recorded victory in four out of 10 games played, so this weekend's visit to Fulham offers the opportunity to firmly state Everton's intentions and lay to rest another bogey.

The Blues haven't won at Craven Cottage since 1966 and Chris Coleman's outfit have extended that frustrating hoodoo over us on their own ground in recent years.  Indeed, visits to this part of West London have often been testy affairs with on-pitch brawls and red cards a-plenty.

Moyes's record at Goodison over the past four years has seen a catalogue of long-standing records — good and bad — broken, though this one would be an especially satisfying one to wipe away in its 40th year of existence.  This is also where I insert the usual "we should be winning these types of games..." assertion.

As was widely reported, Moyes closed Bellefield for a couple of days earlier this week in an effort to beat the virus that has plagued the squad for the past fortnight.  Over half the side that took the field at Ashburton Grove last weekend were ill to some degree and the manager will be hoping that they will be back to something approaching full health for Saturday's lunchtime kick off.

Nuno Valente has resumed training following a groin injury but if he hasn't attained sufficient match preparedness in time, Joleon Lescott will deputise at left back once more.

Phil Neville played through a hamstring strain last week but with Tony Hibbert out until around Christmas time, we can ill-afford to have him on the sidelines and he will likely play.

In the middle, Alan Stubbs will partner Joseph Yobo again if Lescott is deployed on the left.

With Moyes almost certain to field a 4-5-1 formation, the front six players will probably be unchanged, with Osman, Arteta, Cahill, Carsley and Davies strung across the middle behind Johnson and the likes of Beattie, McFadden and Anichebe on the bench.

Cahill and Johnson will once again be relied upon for goals, with the Australian getting most of the plaudits in the press this week for his scoring exploits so far this season.

match photo
Tim Cahill: seven goals on the season already

The crucial factor for Everton, however, will be getting Johnson back into the thick of the action.  AJ was largely a spectator at Arsenal, with the ball flying over or well wide him for far too much of the time. Getting back into the mode of delivering well-weighted balls for him to chase down the channels must be a priority as, hopefully, will be greater emphasis on passing and finding another Blue shirt than was the case last weekend.

Fulham, for their part, have so far not proved to be the walkover many expected them to be this season after they opened the campaign with a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester United.  A chronic lack of investment in their team had some, including myself, tipping them for relegation, but they have made a decent enough start and sit ninth going into this game.

A closer look at the fixtures they have played, however, suggests that they have picked up most of their points against bottom-half teams.  Their only away win so far was against Newcastle; their two home wins against Sheffield United and Charlton two teams currently languishing in the bottom three.

TW Betting Tip: Odds are pretty short on most options so your best bet might be on scorer/score combinations — e.g. Cahill scores first and Everton win 1-0 at 25/1.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

Match Report

May appear here later

Author

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FULHAM (4-4-2)
  Niemi
  Rosenior
  Knight
  Pearce
  Queudrue
  Boa Morte (84' Volz)
  Bocanegra
  C Jensen
  Routledge (91' John)
  McBride (93' Helguson)
  Radzinski
  Subs not used
  Lastuvka
  Zakuani
 
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Neville :38'
  Yobo
  Stubbs
  Lescott
  Carsley (85' Anichebe)
  Arteta
  Davies (71' Beattie)
  Osman
  Cahill
  Johnson
  Subs not used
  Turner
  Valente
  McFadden
  Unavailable
  Van der Meyde (injured)
  Pistone (injured)
  Naysmith (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Weir (injured)
  Wright (injured)
  Boyle (injured)

Premiership Scores
Saturday 4 November 2006
Fulham 1-0 Everton
Bolton 0-1 Wigan
Charlton 1-0 Man City
Liverpool 2-0 Reading
Man United 3-0 Portsmouth
Newcastle 0-1 Sheff United
Watford 1-0 Middlesbro'
Sunday 5 November 2006
Aston Villa 2-0 Blackburn
Tottenham 2-1 Chelsea
West Ham 1-0 Arsenal

Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Man Utd 28
2 Chelsea 25
3 Bolton 20
4 Portsmouth 19
5 Arsenal 18
6 Aston Villa 18
7 Everton 17
8 Liverpool 17
9 Fulham 16
10 Tottenham 15
11 Wigan 14
12 Reading 13
13 Blackburn 12
14 Man City 12
15 West Ham 11
16 Middlesbro 11
17 Watford 9
18 Sheff Utd 9
19 Newcastle 8
20 Charlton 8
After 5 Nov 2006