FULHAM 2-3 EVERTON
- Goals: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.8m) x2, Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.3m) | Bobby De Cordova-Reid (£5.3m), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.9m)
- Assists: Richarlison (£7.8m), Lucas Digne (£6.1m) x2| Tom Cairney (£5.3m), Ademola Lookman (£5.0m)
- Bonus: Calvert-Lewin x3, Doucouré x2, Digne x1
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.8m) owners may be hoping Carlo Ancelotti retains the wing-back system which worked to devastating effect in attack during the first half against Fulham on Sunday.
The Everton striker put his team 1-0 up after 42 seconds as the Toffees pounced on Fulham’s poorly-executed attempt to play out from the back.
Lucas Digne (£6.1m), operating at left wing-back, won the ball high up the pitch before releasing Richarlison (£7.8m).
The Brazilian’s cross took a slight touch off a Fulham defender but found its intended target in Calvert-Lewin, who bundled home from close range.
The England striker totalled three attempts in the match, all from inside the box and all of which hit the target.
“The first half was a representation of me benefitting from the new system, where I’m getting chances from wide areas, crosses coming in.
“That’s what I like, being in the right area at the right time.” – Dominic Calvert-Lewin
WING-BACK TO THE FUTURE
Whether or not Ancelotti retains the 3-4-3 formation will be revealed in the coming Gameweeks, though the Italian is aware that Everton must defend better:
“Alex Iwobi played well, like the others played really well. I am pleased for him. In that wing-back position, he can show his quality.
“We have to improve (defensively) for sure. We were not so compact and not so close to the line. We have time this week to work on this.
“I don’t think it is a winning system because there is no winning system. The sytem gave us the possibility to use more of the width of the pitch and to put crosses in.” – Carlo Ancelotti
Both Digne and the impressive Alex Iwobi (£5.9m) were heavily involved in Everton’s attacking play at Craven Cottage.
Iwobi’s jinking run in the first half led to James Rodriguez (£7.9m) finding Digne on the left.
The Frenchman’s first-time cross resulted in a first-time Calvert-Lewin finish just before the half-hour mark.
Ten minutes earlier, Iwobi saw an assist for Calvert-Lewin chalked off as the striker had strayed offside before beating the busy Alphonse Areola (£4.5m).
Rodriguez owners may be less impressed with the new Everton system, which saw him playing centrally in attack but usually feeding the marauding wing-backs.
That occurred again on 35 minutes as a lovely one-two between Digne and Rodriguez allowed the former to cross for Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.3m), who rose unchallenged to head home.
It could have been an assist hat-trick for Digne before the half-time whistle but Richarlison fluffed his lines from close range after the France defender put in a teasing low cross.
Richarlison also saw an attempt inside the box saved by Areola earlier in the opening period, following an excellent shot assist from Calvert-Lewin.
TOFFEES COME UNSTUCK
For all of Everton’s excellent attacking play in the first half, Fulham exposed the 3-4-3 formation in the second period.
Parker’s team took control of possession, pushing Digne and Iwobi back towards their own goal.
Fulham’s pressure told on 68 minutes when substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.9m) was fouled inside the area.
The Cottagers’ woes from the penalty spot continued, however, as Ivan Cavaleiro (£5.3m) slipped on hitting the spot-kick to send the ball over Jordan Pickford‘s (£4.9m) crossbar.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£5.7m) and Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) – who have both missed a penalty this season – were on the pitch at the time.
“I don’t think you could write it. Cav was the penalty taker, we worked on it this week. Like I said it after the last time [with Lookman], you can miss penalties and he slipped. It is one of those things.
“No denying we have issues with penalties. We’ll keep working and training it to see who is the best to take them.” – Scott Parker
Two minutes later, Loftus-Cheek did grab a goal back for Fulham as he steered a Lookman cross past Pickford.
“I thought [Ruben] was brilliant really. He came in and worked really hard with him with the information I’m trying to give him so he can have a big impact. Sometimes he can have a tendency to drift but today was everything we wanted.” – Scott Parker
Ancelotti’s response was to hook both Rodriguez and Richarlison, as Everton clung on for a precious three points:
“It was a difficult game, it was difficult to prepare. It was a good first half, second half we lost physical energy and we had difficulties. James was tired, Richarlison was tired.” – Carlo Ancelotti
While Fulham dominated the second half, their defensive lapses in the opening 45 minutes – and another spot-kick blunder – proved the Cottagers’ undoing. That domination, however, did stop Calvert-Lewin from having an opportunity to clinch a hat-trick.
“It was a game of two halves. Second half, we didn’t really have much of the ball. It was more about digging in, winning fouls and free-kicks. It was more of a lonely role [up front].
“It sounds cliche but in the second half we didn’t have much of the ball and on another day we might be punished for not playing well in the second half.” – Dominic Calvert-Lewin
COTT ON THE HOP
The Cottagers’ issues in defence are certain to be at the forefront of FPL managers’ minds heading into Gameweek 10.
Parker’s men travel to play Leicester next weekend, before back-to-back clashes against Manchester City and Liverpool.
Having conceded ten goals in the opening three Gameweeks of the season, Fulham let in just five in as many fixtures before Gameweek 9.
But going into Gameweek 9 only Everton (7.83), Sheffield United (7.64) and West Ham (6.11) had higher ‘expected goals conceded‘ totals than Fulham (6.01).
That xGC figure was racked up in fixtures against the Blades, Crystal Palace, West Brom and the Hammers.
On Mitrovic’s benching, Parker said before the game:
“[It is] mainly [a] tactical [decision]. Obviously Aleks has come back from international duty. The team I’ve [picked] today is a team that I feel can hurt Everton, can cause them problems.
Cavaleiro was the man tasked with leading the line against Everton, though it was Decordova-Reid who got Fulham’s first-half goal after linking well with Tom Cairney (£5.3m).
After the match, an irritated Parker reflected:
Improved in the second half but three goals down, I have stood here many times, you can’t go on to score four goals to win games.
A reaction? Yes, for sure, but it came too late. First half as always we played some nice stuff, showed what we were about but any second ball we came out second best. It is not the way it needs to be.
We changed things around tactically [in the second half] but we did exactly what we missed in the first half in the battles and the fundamentals of a football match. They have to be a given. We fell short of that in the first half.
Fulham XI (4-2-3-1): Areola; A Robinson, Adarabioyo, Andersen, Aina; Reed, Lemina (Zambo Anguissa 69′); Lookman, Cairney (Loftus-Cheek 57′), De Cordova-Reid (Mitrovic 57′); Cavaleiro.
Everton XI (3-4-3): Pickford; Keane, Mina, Godfrey; Digne, Allan, Doucouré, Iwobi,; Richarlison (Sigurdsson 76′), Calvert-Lewin, Rodriguez (Davies 73′).
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 9
- Newcastle United 0-2 Chelsea
- Aston Villa 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Manchester City
- Manchester United 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
- Fulham 2-3 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-1 West Ham United
- Leeds United 0-0 Arsenal
- Liverpool 3-0 Leicester City
- Burnley 1-0 Crystal Palace
- Wolves 1-1 Southampton