Everton vs. Fulham: 5 Things Learned from Today's 2-2 Draw
Seventh and 90th minute strikes from the hosts punctuated lengthy spells of Toffee dominance, and Evertonians will find it hard to work out how a Marouane Fellaini brace did not give their side the win their efforts merited.
Chances were continually spurned throughout the contest by the men in blue, and the draw will undoubtedly feel like defeat to most connected with the club.
A slight positive in the aftermath was the rest of the day's results, that meant David Moyes' men still managed to regain fourth position, despite such on-field frustration.
Here a five talking points to emerge from today's encounter.
Recurrent Slow Starts
A increasingly worrying trend in recent fixtures has been the Toffees' knack of conceding goals so early on.
David Moyes has been adopting a far more adventurous approach to games this season, and in terms of chances and shots manufactured, this has certainly paid dividends. Yet it seems this shift has also left his side appearing vulnerable at the start.
Over the last six games, including the League Cup, Everton have now fallen behind on four, six, ten, two, 14 and seven minutes.
That's six consecutive occasions the opening 15 minutes have not been seen out, a trait that simply must not continue if the Toffees wish to progress on from their solid start.
Poor Chance Conversion
As impressive as the Toffees were on the eye and when looking over the statistics for today, chance conversion is still the essential aspect of football.
Teams can look world beaters on every blade of grass they cover, but if they are not putting the ball in the net, their style is irrelevant. Results are everything.
For one reason or another, Everton were overly sloppy in front of goal today, and to keep hold of fourth position they will need to be considerably more ruthless.
Carving out 27 shots and restricting a home side to just nine attempts should never end in any result other than a convincing win.
Another slightly concerning aspect of today's showing was the peripheral performance of Nikica Jelavic.
With a mere 24 touches, at least half the number of any of his teammates, the Croatian was barely involved as he struggled to find space on either side of Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland.
On the rare occasions he did find the ball, he was far from his usually clinical self, let down by a heavy first touch and an overly rash shot at goal.
His instant success at Everton suggests today's showing should prove to be a blip, but given the chances currently being created, the Toffees cannot afford their front man to endure too many more quiet days at the office.
Fellaini the Weapon
Marouane Fellaini was certainly not as imposing today as he's been this season. He neither passed or tackled as well as he can, and he has certainly made his presence felt in the final third far more extensively than it was today.
Yet despite this, and in contrast to Jelavic, he still proved the catalyst in unlocking an organised defence, when all else had seemingly failed.
His cool, classy strike from a Kevin Mirallas cut-back and his powerful take-down and finish were two flashes of brilliance from the Belgian, who has slowly become the Toffees' go-to man in the absence of Tim Cahill.
For years Cahill was renowned for cropping up undetected with vital strikes, and as much as the Toffees will want Fellaini at his devastating best for every match, contributions such as today's will be just as well received.
Still a Strong Start
Four draws in a row is not something to set pulses racing among fans, especially with Evertonians so desperate for a return to European competition next season.
However, when the overall 10-game start to the season is fully assessed, away from the frustrations of today, Moyes' side have made huge strides in both performance, style and results.
Currently sitting on 17 points, the Toffees are fourth, easily passing their tallies of 10, 13, 12, 12 and 13 points at this stage during the past five seasons.
Additionally, Everton have now negotiated six away ties in their opening 10 games, having played at home just four times.
Fourth in the table, after playing an expanded, attractive game, is a scenario all would have taken a quarter of the way into the season—regardless of opportunities missed.
It could, and perhaps should have been even better, but Everton have had the start they've craved. Now there's just the small matter of preserving it.
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