Everton vs. Fulham: Complete EPL Preview and Stats Breakdown

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent IApril 26, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03:  Steven Pienaar of Everton (R) in action with Bryan Ruiz of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Everton at Craven Cottage on November 3, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Everton face Fulham on Saturday in their penultimate home game of the season.

In truth, both sides have little left to play for in the Premier League, although the sixth-placed Toffees will aim to keep above near neighbours, Liverpool, and hope the teams above them suffer an inconceivable loss of form.

Five places below them, Fulham know a win would most likely put them in the top 10, which is where Martin Jol will want to finish come the end of the season.


Form and Previous Meetings

Before a poor performance at Sunderland, Everton had been in strong form, picking up 14 points from a possible 18.

Fulham enjoyed a similarly consistent February and March, with 11 points from 15, but have collected just one point from their past four games.

History clearly favours the Toffees in this encounter, with David Moyes' side winning nine and tasting defeat just twice over the previous 13 meetings.

In fact, Everton have been even more imperious at home, with an incredible 19 straight league wins against the Cottagers, stretching back to the 1960s. The Toffees have never lost at home in a league tie against Fulham up until now.


Team News and Key Players

For the hosts, Tony Hibbert may again miss out while there are question marks over the availability of Phil Jagielka, Darron Gibson and Victor Anichebe.

Jagielka missed the defeat against Sunderland and Moyes claimed the premature withdrawals of both Gibson and Anichebe were as a result of injury (via EvertonFC.com).

Fulham have the recently over exuberant Steve Sidwell suspended again, while Ashkan Dejagah, Damien Duff, Mahamadou Diarra and Sasha Riether could remain absent.

Everton have at times struggled to better physical defenders this season, meaning 6'6" Brede Hangeland will be pivotal to his side's aspirations. If he can help lock up Marouane Fellaini in the final third, Fulham will be far more likely to prosper.

Leighton Baines has appeared jaded in recent weeks, and for Everton to be at their cohesive best they need their inspirational left-back firing again, especially at home. The level of his contribution could easily prove the difference in this clash.


Potential Starting XIs

If fit, Phil Jagielka will lead the Toffees, with John Heitinga waiting in the wings to deputise once again in his potential absence. Elsewhere, a mixture of injury and poor performances may prompt Moyes to bring in Ross Barkley and Nikica Jelavic for Gibson and Anichebe.

That would leave Fellaini continuing in his preferred deeper role, although his impressive attacking display against Fulham earlier in the season could result in the Belgian reverting back to an attacking berth.

The visitors are likely to be unchanged from their clash with Arsenal, aside from Giorgos Karagounis who will compete with Emmanuel Frimpong to replace the suspended Sidwell.


Key Stats

These sides play with contrasting styles. Everton employ a high line and like to attack down the flanks, especially favouring their left. They play a direct brand of football, looking to play in the opponent's half and average 26 crosses per game—the third-most among Premier League teams.

On the other hand, Fulham average the third-fewest amount of crosses per game (20), preferring to play at their own pace, generally through the middle, with their midfielders interchanging around the influential Dimitar Berbatov.

The Toffees have also spent the highest proportion of time in the final third (32 percent), while Fulham have averaged the Premier League's second-lowest return of 24 percent.

Expect the visitors to sit back and try to be compact in defence, prepared to face crosses from out wide and look to use Berbatov to hold up play and advance them up the field.


Statistics via EPL Index and WhoScored? 


    Live: Man Utd vs. Chelsea

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Live: Man Utd vs. Chelsea

    via SkySports

    Tottenham Legend Blasts Watford vs Everton as 'Not Premier League Standard'

    Everton logo

    Tottenham Legend Blasts Watford vs Everton as 'Not Premier League Standard'

    via hertfordshiremercury

    Juventus Join Barca & Arsenal in Race to Sign PSG Starlet Adli

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Juventus Join Barca & Arsenal in Race to Sign PSG Starlet Adli

    Calciomercato.com | Tutte le news sul calcio in tempo reale
    via Calciomercato.com | Tutte le news sul calcio in tempo reale

    'Lying Bastard' — Klopp Quizzed on Liverpool Fans' Evra Chants

    World Football logo
    World Football

    'Lying Bastard' — Klopp Quizzed on Liverpool Fans' Evra Chants

    Matthew Stead
    via Football365