Preview: Everton vs. Fulham

Preview: Everton vs. Fulham

Everton and Fulham kick off their 2023-24 Premier League campaign with an encounter at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Cottagers head to Merseyside four months on from securing a 3-1 away victory against the Toffees courtesy of goals from Harrison Reed, Harry Wilson and the now departed Daniel James.

Everton remain one of six clubs – along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – to have never been relegated from the Premier League since its inception in 1992 after narrowly avoiding the drop of the final day of last season.

A stunning Abdoulaye Doucoure strike sealed a slender 1-0 win over Bournemouth in May to help the Toffees finish 17th and two points above the bottom three, with manager Sean Dyche successfully steering the club to safety after replacing Frank Lampard in January.

Eleven weeks on from their final-day heroics at Goodison Park, Dyche is preparing his side for their season opener against Fulham and is seeking to make a positive start to his first full season in charge of Everton as they endeavour to avoid another gruelling relegation battle. However, that could prove challenging if they fail to improve their squad before next month’s transfer deadline.

Indeed, the cash-strapped Toffees have only signed 38-year-old Ashley Young on a free transfer and Arnaut Danjuma on loan so far this summer while watching a number of their Premier League rivals strengthen in several departments. Teenage forward Youssef Chermiti is closing in on a permanent move to the blue side of Merseyside, though, at the time of writing.

Although Everton enter the new season with a smaller squad than the one that avoided the drop last season, Dyche’s side enjoyed an unbeaten pre-season after winning four and drawing two of their six friendly fixtures, including a narrow 1-0 home win over Sporting Lisbon last weekend courtesy of a first-half strike from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Everton head into Saturday’s clash with Fulham having lost only one of their last 11 opening fixtures in a Premier League season, although they have been beaten in their last two home encounters with the Cottagers, conceding five goals in the process.

Fulham head into the 2023-24 campaign hoping to build on their impressive return to the Premier League last season in which they exceeded expectations with a top-10 finish, a year on from their Championship title triumph.

However, former Everton boss Marco Silva’s side have endured a somewhat disjointed pre-season this summer, largely due to the uncertainty over the futures of key attacking duo Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian amid interest from clubs in Saudi Arabia.

After winning one and losing two of their three pre-season friendlies in the inaugural Premier League Summer Series in the USA, Fulham returned to home soil and beat German club Hoffenheim 2-1 last weekend, courtesy of goals from new recruits Raul Jimenez and Calvin Bassey – the club’s only two summer signings to date.

Fulham have developed an unwanted habit of making a slow start to a league season, as they have only won one of their last eight opening-weekend fixtures, failing to win any of their last three in the Premier League.

The Cottagers have also lost their only two previous encounters against Everton in the opening game of a top-flight season, although a record of three wins in their last five Premier League meetings with the Toffees bodes well ahead of Saturday’s fixture.

Everton pre-season form:

Fulham pre-season form:

We say: Everton 1-1 Fulham
Both clubs will be fired up to make a strong start to the new season and will fancy their chances of picking up all three points in Saturday’s encounter.

Only one draw has been played out between these two sides in the last 10 meetings across all competitions, but we believe that a closely-fought contest could be on the cards at Goodison Park and we can see the spoils being shared on this occasion.

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