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Everton Club Focus – Fulham fixture of great importance to Moyes’ winless Toffees

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By Andrew Tuft

Friday 21 October 2011

Everton travel to Fulham on Sunday having suffered three Premier League defeats in a row, and with the daunting prospect of Manchester United to come next weekend, the meeting with Martin Jol’s side represents the Toffees’ best hope of taking their first points of October. This month always appeared to be a potentially treacherous one for David Moyes, and so it has proved. Everton have been understandably outplayed by Manchester City and Chelsea, and dogged by referee error in defeat to Liverpool. The circumstances however matter less than the points tally, and Everton are struggling. As such, the visit to Craven Cottage, for so long a barren hunting ground for Everton but more recently a highly profitable excursion, takes on even greater significance than usual. Everton can barely afford to return empty handed.

Should Everton fail to take at least a point from Fulham – and then suffer their second defeat to Chelsea in less than two weeks when the sides meet on Wednesday in the League Cup –Moyes’ side will head into the winter months in worrying condition. The last match of October, against United, will in turn take on more importance too, and the pattern will repeat itself until Everton break their current downturn and record a victory. It is a roughly similar blueprint to the one followed every season in recent memory – drop points early on, then embark on a staggering run of good form to recover the lost ground. It appeared Everton had avoided this fate with a comparatively decent August and September, but this year the fixture list – and Everton’s inability to cope with it – has taken its toll.

Every year Everton start slowly and come roaring back in the New Year the question is asked how much longer they can continue to take such an extreme trajectory. Indeed, every summer the manager and a number of senior players say this season will be the one where they start as they mean to go on, and, to a point, it seemed to be the case in this campaign, until the fixture list threw up such a devastating run of games. Regardless, if Everton do not shake their malaise they will find themselves in the same position at the end of this December as they were at the end of the last one – mired in the mid-table, closer to the relegation zone than a Europa League place.

The recovery from the traumatic last three games cannot begin soon enough. It was in this same fixture last season that Everton recorded their first point of the campaign in a 0-0 draw, having failed to win in the first six games of the season. A point was not enough to prevent Everton slumping to bottom of the league but it was the start of the turnaround, and a week later Birmingham City were dispatched 2-0 at St Andrew’s. Another goalless draw, merely to stem the tide, would be a start for the battered Blues.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Fulham v Everton

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