Everton host Fulham at Goodison Park on Saturday in a Premier League clash between two sides who have had similarly difficult starts to the campaign, and will be looking to push up the table with three points this weekend.
Both sides have won just one league game so far this term, and having each failed to win last weekend, the onus will be on both sides to push for maximum points this time out.
Everton in particular will be looking to regain some of their more promising form from the opening weeks of the campaign, having lost away to Arsenal last weekend in what was their second defeat so far this season.
Meanwhile, Fulham produced a late show to come from behind to secure a draw at home to Watford last weekend, and will be hoping to channel the momentum from that fightback to produce a stronger performance on Saturday.
Everton’s last three matches have largely summed up their season so far under Marco Silva. A closely fought 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield was followed by a crushing 3-1 defeat at home to West Ham.
However, the Toffees performance levels showed signs of improvement last weekend at the Emirates, though their strike force was unable to convert Silva’s side’s dominance in the first half, and Everton were ultimately undone by the class and firepower of Arsenal.
Similar levels of application and attacking intent should yield the desired results moving forward and replicating their energetic performance in north London could be key to gaining the upper hand this weekend.
Fulham’s recent form has been similarly patchy under Slavisa Jokanovic, with two draws and one defeat from their last three league outings failing to reflect the pre-season buzz which surrounded Craven Cottage following a summer of big spending and high-profile transfers.
Jokanovic’s side surrendered a two-goal lead away to Brighton, as a Glenn Murray double denied the visitors a win which had seemed comfortably in the bag, before being soundly beaten 3-0 away to champions Manchester City.
Rather than licking their wounds, Fulham have responded positively, earning a 1-1 draw at home to high-flying Watford through a late Aleksandar Mitrovic equaliser last weekend, before a much-changed Cottagers side secured a 3-1 win away to Millwall in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
The last meeting between the two sides came prior to Fulham’s relegation from the Premier League. Everton came away from Craven Cottage 3-1 winners in March 2014, taking the lead through a David Stockdale own goal.
Ashkan Dejagah provided a response to draw the home side level, but late goals from Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith saw the Toffees ease past their hosts on that occasion.
Though the two sides are much changed in personnel since their previous encounter, Everton maintain a strike force which they will feel capable of powering them past Fulham once more, particularly with the Toffees having home advantage this time out.
Everton remain without James McCarthy, as the midfielder continues his recovery from his horrific double leg break in January. Phil Jagielka also continues to miss out, with the veteran defender still nursing a knee injury, whilst midfielder Beni Baningime remains out.
Summer signings from Barcelona Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes also remain fitness doubts for this weekend, having each failed to make an appearance for Everton since their summer switches from Catalonia to Merseyside, and Marco Silva is likely to make a later decision on the pair ahead of Saturday’s match.
Seamus Coleman, meanwhile, has now returned to training for the Toffees and could replace Jonjoe Kenny at right back this weekend.
Slavisa Jokanovic has a near-full Fulham squad at his disposal for the trip to Merseyside, though influential captain Tom Cairney remains side-lined. Attacking midfielder Neeskens Kebano continues to recover from a malleolar injury.
Though Fulham arrive at Goodison Park capable of posing plenty of threat to the hosts, particularly through in-form striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, Everton will feel they are the side in greater need of the win after a difficult recent run of form which makes the three points a must for the Toffees on Saturday.
Everton displayed their attacking quality away to Arsenal last weekend and proved that they are capable of causing problems for any team, but will need to be more clinical in front of goal than last time out at the Emirates.
With the advantage of a rousing home support behind them at Goodison Park on Saturday, Marco Silva’s side should have enough to overcome Fulham this weekend and get back to winning ways.
Score prediction: Everton 2-1 Fulham