Everton 1 Fulham 3: Damaging home defeat for Blues
This afternoon Everton collapsed to a 3-1 home defeat to Fulham, which has left the Toffees’ in deep trouble near the bottom of the Premier League table.
Today’s loss at Goodison Park was very harmful to the Blues’ hopes of staying up this season after the reversal at Manchester United last weekend, and raises serious questions about whether this team can ultimately avoid the drop.
In some ways, Everton were a little unlucky today. Despite going behind early on in the first half, they responded well and soon were level through Dwight McNeil’s strike.
And, after equalising the Toffees’ really should have been ahead with Demarai Gray blazing over late in the half.
Again, Everton started the second half decently too but then got hit with a sucker punch as Fulham broke and Harry Wilson added a second for the visitors.
That was the end and it was game over. The Blues’ couldn’t respond with Daniel James adding a third to confirm what was a very damaging defeat.
Once more Sean Dyche went with a 4-4-2 from the start today although I thought he should and would return to his 4-5-1, but Amadou Onana’s absence complicated things.
And, as I suspected in my match review, he decided to play Ben Godfrey at right-back with Vitalii Mykolenko returning on the left. I was hoping to see Nathan Patterson at right-back but he was on the bench.
He also brought James Garner into central midfield, another decision I felt might well happen and gave Neal Maupay another chance up front.
That was a big mistake as the Frenchman added nothing and after that display today I don’t want to see him in a royal blue shirt again.
While I do think the tactics and formation were wrong, as mentioned before the Toffees’ were actually competitive in the first half and more than held their own creating some decent chances too.
But, while hindsight is easy, I think Dyche was mistaken not to go with three in the middle. Perhaps he could have put Tom Davies in from the start I don’t know.
So, where does this loss leave Everton and their increasingly fragile hopes of staying in the Premier League?
Today’s match really was one that the Blues’ had to win. There are now only home games left against Newcastle United, Manchester City and Bournemouth on the last day of the season.
That final day fixture could be a relegation decider, something I don’t think I can deal with again after those two last-day matches in 1994 and 98.
And, next up comes a tough trip to a revitalised Crystal Palace before another away game at high-flying Brighton. Does anyone feel confident that Everton will get points from those games?
Furthermore, Palace, Wolves and most of all Bournemouth all won today, which was the worst outcome for the Toffees’ given this defeat.
It’s not all over by any means but this afternoon’s result feels like a particularly bad setback in Everton’s desperate battle to stay up.