Fulham and Everton clash in the first of the two Sunday matches with the both sides eager to gain the three points needed for their respective causes. Fulham go into the game knowing that they need to make their home fixtures count with only a few games left to save their status in Premier League. After four wins on the bounce, Everton have put themselves into the reckoning for a surprise Champion League spot with only six points separated them and Arsenal with a game in hand.
Fulham have only won one of their last ten fixtures in the league and were hammered in their last game away to Manchester City. A poor defensive display was capped off with a 5-0 score line with Amorebieta giving marching orders after giving away two penalties. The Cottagers did however win their last home game against Newcastle and another three points against Everton could see them jump up two places into 18th and a step closer to their survival quest.
Everton have been on great form in the last few weeks, culminating in an impressive 3-0 victory away to Newcastle on Tuesday night. Their good run of results have meant that the Toffees have overtaken Man Utd and Spurs and are now eyeing up the last Champions League place occupied by Arsenal. By the end of the weekend fixtures, Everton could be three points off the Gunners, having played one game less and with the two team set to meet in a crucial fixture at Goodison Park next week.
In the match between the two sides in December, Everton ran out 4-1 winners at Goodison Park with against a Fulham side who had recently appointed Rene Meulensteen as head coach.
As mentioned before, Fernando Amorebieta received two yellow cards in Fulham’s last fixture which will mean that he will be suspended for the game. Burn and Duff are also sidelined for the match with injuries. However, Holtby, Dejagah and Karagounis may all come back into the starting line up against Everton. Former Fulham and Real Madrid star man Mahamadou Diarra has resigned for the Cottagers and could be his second handed his second debut for the club on Sunday.
The good news for Everton fans is that Phil Jagielka will travel with the team having missed the last five games with a hamstring injury. Pienaar is around two weeks away from being back to full fitness with January signing Traore also missing due to injury. Oviedo, Kone and Gibson are all long term absentees.
Since joining Fulham on loan from Spurs in January, Lewis Holtby has shown glimpses of his creativity within the Fulham team and is likely to play an important role if Fulham are to avoid relegation this season. As the main supporter for the lone striker, many fans will see Holtby as a player who can be capable of chipping in with goals, having only scored two this season with only one being for Fulham. The German has been able to at times show his creative nature, creating 10 chances for his teammates at Fulham, with two assists to his name. Whoever the lone striker may be on Sunday, he will be looking to the likes of Holtby to provide the chances if Fulham are to get the win they so badly need.
Ross Barkley will be going into the match brimming with confidence, especially after a superb solo effort to score Everton first goal in their 3-0 win against Newcastle. But not only that but Barkley has also found himself a strong candidate to be on England’s plane to Brazil for the world cup which will definitely give him a boost going into the remaining few matches this season. Along with the goal on Tuesday, Barkley has scored five goals in the Premier League this season, with a keen eye on shooting from distance. Barkley has also shown that he is a very gifted and talented dribbler of the ball with 62 out of his 100 attempted dribbles being successful. One of his standout figures however is his passing accuracy with 85% of 934 passes being accurate with 0.51 passes being made per minute. Barkley has shown this season that he is a talent which can only get better with time which will be great for Everton, if they can hold onto him. His well rounded abilities as a midfielder has helped him secure a first team place in the team and will again want to show off his abilities against Fulham.
With Fulham fighting for their lives, I feel they can be a more than a match for Everton, even with the Toffees going into the game on form. The Fulham players know that it is a do or die situation so I feel that a draw will be a likely outcome for this one.
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