It sounds like an excuse and maybe it is one but one can’t help but wonder how differently the game against Birmingham would have panned out if Mikel Arteta not gone off injured after 10 minutes.
Everton dominated possession and had far more opportunities to score but there was just a little guile missing at times. Something the cultured feet of the Spaniard would have been able to provide. Probably. There’s never any way of knowing how things would have panned out had he remained but the cutting edge issues which tethered Everton in the bottom half of the table for much of the season returned and David Moyes had to settle for a point in a game he’ll feel his side should have won with some comfort.
This week there’ll be no Arteta from the start and with Fellaini gone for this season and Tim Cahill touch and go, Moyes may look to his wide men to do the damage down the wings. That could see Seamus Coleman get the nod on the right of midfield and the young Irishman has shown an eye for goal so would be worth a small flutter at 14/1 to score first. Up front Saha will be Everton’s main threat regardless of tactics and his ability in the air make him the obvious choice to score first at 5/1 if the wide players have success getting to the byline. Tim Cahill, at the time of writing, is still in with a shout of starting and if he does then this is the kind of game where he comes good. He’s 6/1 to score last.
Fulham may have won just one Premier League match away from Craven Cottage this season but they have managed eight draws and conceded just fifteen goals, giving them the joint second best away defence in the league. So this isn’t going to be easy and with Damien Duff in great form and Bobby Zamora back in the mix, Fulham will cause some problems going forward as well as being typically obstinate at the back. Some good news on the stat front is that this is Fulham’s tenth Premier League visit to Goodison Park and so far so good for the home side, with Everton winning all nine previous encounters. That has to make you feel good about taking the Blues on at 10/11. Given the visitor’s away record and Everton’s creativity issues, this may be one of the tighter wins and 1-0 at 5/1 and 2-1 at 15/2 are the unspectacular but more likely results.
European football next season is still a possibility for David Moyes but he knows his side can’t afford to drop points at home. He won’t care if it’s not a ten out of ten performance as long as it’s a tenth straight home league win over Fulham and three points in the bag.