In this weeks opposition focus, Matt Wiggins spoke to John Barlow, founder of The Toffee Blues podcast and YouTube channel, to get an Everton perspective ahead of our trip to Goodison Park…
Everton vs Fulham, what comes to mind when you think of this fixture from years gone by?
Fulham at Goodison, I won’t lie, is a fixture I don’t have too many big memories about. That being said in the past 6 years the fixture at Goodison has only been played twice if you include this weekend’s match. A couple memories that spring to mind are a couple wins in the 2011/2012 season where our Argentinian loan, Denis Stracqualursi scored his first Everton goal in a 2-1 win in the FA Cup. Denis would go onto to run through many brick walls for Everton during his time at the club. Then there was a 4-0 win a few months later mainly thanks to Nikica Jelavic who was on red hot form for Everton after recently joining from Rangers. I seem to remember Phillipe Senderos had a decent game against us as well which I found pretty funny as it was the best performance I had ever seen the former Everton loanee have.
Last time, you came out on top with a 3-2 win after a dominant first half performance. What’s your reflection on the reverse fixture?
I think it was very important that we went to Craven Cottage and got that win. It was when our squad at that point was at it’s strongest and none of our players had been injured yet. I feel like Everton were deserved winners, but some sloppy defending didn’t help us that day. I do remember that Abdoulaye Doucoure and Lucas Digne were brilliant that day and that has been a running theme for those two this season.
In your last Premier League game, you drew 3-3 with a last minute equaliser against Manchester United, which puts you 7th in the league. Does this kind of result give you confidence to battle for a European place?
100%! That point against United is a massive point and it keeps the squad’s confidence up and shows their character that they will not give up easy, I think that can be seen from our recent 5-4 FA Cup win against Tottenham as well. Getting into Europe is Carlo’s next step for Everton, and I think we can do it if we continue to stay consistent and injuries don’t hamper us.
The end of the January transfer window saw Everton and Fulham battling for the signature of Josh King. How do you feel about his signing as he chose to join the Toffees?
Deadline day was a crazy one and it seemed like Josh King was linked to about 10 clubs throughout the day. The signing of Josh King is a smart one from Everton and they are in a no lose situation, we have signed him on 6 month contract for a very low fee so if we want to extend his contract we can do with no issue. Josh hasn’t played many minutes so really hasn’t had a lot of time to show much but he played a massive role in our draw against Man United winning the free kick for our equaliser. With him being cup tied and Dominic Calvert-Lewin looking like he has picked up an injury, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Josh get a good amount of time against Fulham to show himself.
Last time we spoke about Everton’s brilliant summer transfer window. How would you describe the new signings performances this season, as we head into the middle of February?
Nothing short of fantastic to be honest and it is very difficult to pick who has been the best. Doucoure is an absolute monster in the midfield and has shown himself how big of an effect he can have defensively and going forward, as he has scored a few goals for us this season. James when he is fit for the majority has been magical to watch. Allan when he has been fit has been a general in midfield and hopefully looks to be fit to play some part this weekend. Robin Olsen is getting a lot more games now as Jordan Pickford has picked up an injury, but I think many Evertonians would rather Olsen start over Pickford for the rest of the season. And finally Ben Godfrey has been an absolute dynamite and has been probably our best defender. The lad is rapid too.
Who’s one Everton player that Fulham need to watch out for on Saturday?
Tough ask as there are a few players who can hurt Fulham, but I would say Richarlison. After his 2 goals v Spurs he will want to continue his goal scoring form to keep confidence high.
Who’s one Fulham player you feel can threaten Everton at Goodison Park?
Ademola Lookman. That reverse fixture was probably one of the best games I have seen Lookman have so he obviously wants to show Everton why they should have given him a better chance. He is tricky and quick with his feet, we have to be warry of him.
Last time we spoke you gave us your predictions of a top 4 of Liverpool, Man City, Spurs and Chelsea and a bottom 3 of Sheffield United, West Brom and either Brighton or Fulham. Are there any changes you’d make to these predictions as we’re further into the season?
The top 4 I think is a tough call. I do thinks Spurs have dropped out of the race for it though as overall I don’t think their squad is strong enough. I think Man City, Man United, Leicester, Liverpool, Chelsea and even ourselves are going to be giving it a good fight to stay in there. It is a tough one to call. The bottom 3 I think my predictions are still pretty good, West Brom have got even worse since the appointment of Sam Allardyce but Everton fans know just how bad his football can be.
Finally, how do you see the game panning out and what do you think the score will be?
I want to say Everton get the win here and carry on their good form, however I think with us playing 120 minutes against Spurs, our squad will need to be on their A-game to make sure tiredness doesn’t affect them.
PREDICTION: EVERTON 3-1 FULHAM
Thanks to John Barlow from The Toffee Blues for answering our questions. Check out their YouTube channel here