Head-To-Head

Thursday 1 November 2012 16:00

Fulham welcome high-flying Everton to Craven Cottage on Saturday (3pm) as we look to extend our unbeaten run to four matches.

A home victory over Aston Villa was sandwiched between draws at Southampton and Reading, while the Toffees arrive in SW6 on the back of three consecutive stalemates.

Martin Jol will hope to have a full complement of players at his disposal once again, while Steven Pienaar will be back for the visiting side after serving a one-match suspension.

The opposition

Everton, like Fulham, have begun the 2012/13 season strongly after traditionally suffering slow starts to their Premier League campaigns. They kicked things off with a hard fought, but thoroughly deserved, victory over Manchester United at Goodison Park, before seeing off Aston Villa.

Defeat by West Bromwich Albion followed but that remains Everton’s only league loss to date as they sit fifth in the table. After a frustrating 2-2 home draw with Newcastle United, David Moyes’ men comfortably saw off Southampton and Swansea City before drawing all of their games in October.

They began the month with a 2-2 draw at the DW Stadium against Wigan Athletic and grabbed a 1-1 draw at Queens Park Rangers in a match that saw Pienaar harshly dismissed for a second yellow card. Their most recent outing was also shrouded in controversy as they played out an exciting 2-2 draw with Liverpool. The Toffees fought back from two goals down, but their Merseyside rivals saw an injury time ‘winner’ contentiously ruled out for offside.

Last time out

Everton 4-0 Fulham 28.04.2012

Goodison Park is the definition of a bogey ground for the Whites as we await our first ever Premier League point at the stadium. Last season was our worst trip as a dominant first-half display by the Blues saw them kill the game as a contest.

The in-form Nikica Jelavic gave the home side an early lead when he converted from 12 yards after Pavel Pogrebnyak had handled inside the area. That lead was doubled just after the quarter-hour mark when Marouane Fellaini headed in from Pienaar’s corner.

Things got worse for Fulham five minutes before half-time when Jelavic grabbed his second of the afternoon, before substitute Tim Cahill added some gloss to the scoreline on the hour mark to cap a miserable trip to Merseyside for the Whites.

Players to watch

Steven Pienaar: The South African ran the show for Everton in our last meeting and Sascha Riether will have his work cut out against the winger on Saturday. After re-signing for the club on a permanent deal in the summer, Pienaar has impressed on the left flank for the Toffees and has forged a terrifying partnership with the highly regarded England defender, Leighton Baines.

Marouane Fellaini: A central midfielder who can be utilised as a striker, Fellaini is unplayable when at his best. Having learnt to control his discipline after a yellow card-laden start to his Everton career, the Belgium international has become one of the Barclays Premier League’s most consistent performers. He grabbed two goals against the Whites last season.

Leighton Baines: Now a serious rival to Ashley Cole for the left-back spot in the England team, Baines’ transfer to Everton from Wigan five years ago for £6m is surely one of Moyes’ most astute pieces of business. An attacking defender with excellent technical ability, he is also a real threat from set-pieces with his vicious left foot.

Bet Butler odds

Our official betting partner, Bet Butler, make Everton slight favourites going into Saturday’s game, with the Toffees priced at 2.70, compared to Fulham’s odds of 2.88.

With all but one of our Premier League matches this season producing at least three goals, the odds of there being over 2.5 goals at the Cottage this weekend are very enticing at 1.84. If you think there will be at least four goals then you’ll get even longer odds at 3.1.

Unsurprisingly, the two main strikers for each team are the favourites to score first; with Dimitar Berbatov and Nikica Jelavic priced at 7.0.

There is an intriguing price on Steve Sidwell to score the final goal of the game – the midfielder is 21.0 which could be worth a punt considering he’s already scored the match’s last goal on two occasions this season.