43 min Is James limping? He seems to be, but looks alright in finding Doucoure, so probably nothing to worry about – unless you’re a Fulham fan.
42 min Goodness me, first Richarlison can’t quite get a sliding volley on James’ prompt, then Digne drives over another low cross and Andersen misses it … but so does Richarlison. This could get exceedingly messy.
40 min Elsewhere, Rangers lead Aberdeen 2-0; given Celtic’s draw yesterday, 10 in a row looks a very long way away.
39 min If Fulham’s defending has improved lately, how much fun was it previously? The back four seem to think marking is for other people.
GOAL! Fulham 1-3 Everton (Docoure 35)
Dearie Fulham. Someone, James I think, spreads wide to Digne whose first touch is a beauty. It doesn’t look much, but it kills the pass and transfers it perfectly into stride, ready for an equally simple yet
37 min “Lucas Digne has his admirers,” tweets Gary Naylor, “but he’s still the most underrated player in the Premier League.”
Similarly, Belgium are my dark horses for the European Championships. But yeah, joking aside, his delivery from the left is very, very good.
32 min On VAR – sorry – are we ready to conclude that none of us fell in love with football because of the effectiveness of its decision-making process, and getting the calls right, or at least improving them by a a few percentage points, doesn’t really matter? Last night’s Man United-West Brom game for example: you can make a convincing argument that all the right things happened in the end – just as you can that they didn’t – but who enjoyed things more as a consequence. Ultimately, what football needs to grasp is that the 90-minute aspect of it is only … football.
GOAL! Fulham 1-2 Everton (Calvert-Lewin 29)
Iwobi mooches inside, leaving three or four defenders hypnotised with the rhythmic softness of his feet, spreads to James, who goes immediately out to Digne, and he serves a perfect first-time caress
30 min VAR is looking at that goal for a potential offside, but concludes that it’s better not to be a baby.
30 min Decordova-Reid is booked for challenge on Richarlison that he made before the goal.
29 min “Those who are saying Fulham are bad clearly didn’t see them two seasons ago!” returns Richard Hirst.
Can’t argue with that.
27 min “I’m fairly sure in one of my Shoot! magazines from the time,” tweets Stew Todd, “Jimmy Greaves recommended that Liverpool send Aldridge to Juventus and keep Rush as they wouldn’t spot the difference between the two. Simpler times.”
Well Jim should know.
25 min Iwobi crosses and Adarabioyo’s is the first head to meet it, sending the ball towards his own goal. But it’s an easy take for Areola, who livens up proceedings by dropping it … but over the bar. Naturally, he then makes like this was his plan all along, fooling the entirety of the Craven Cottage crowd.
24 min “In fact, they’re so bad,” returns Stephen Carr, “that Sam Allardyce is looking into the cost of a pint of wine in the Fulham area.”
I’m fairly sure that round that way, wine is only served in carafes.
22 min This is a really enjoyable game. Neither side has the first clue about defending.
20 min Brillian from Richarlison, who wins back possession chasing towards his own centre-circle, takes the ball back from Allan, and daintily charges past three challenges before diddling Adarabioyo with a lovely change of direction. He looks certain to score, opening his body to pass clinically into the bottom corner, completing a magical goal before knee-sliding into oblivion, only for Areola to make a very smart save down to his left.
20 min Fulham are playing much better now – I said Everton probably wouldn’t play three at the back but I think they are, and Iwobi is as much a wing-back as Godfrey is a full-back, so though the goal from the right, the majority of their activity is coming down the left.
18 min While I was looking for Bob references, Calvert-Lewin gets the ball into the net, this time via expert’s clipped finish after good work from Iwobi, but went too early and was offside.
17 min “To resume our relationship from the cricket season,” says Richard Hirst before the euqaliser “and bringing my two passions together – it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a Fulham supporter to cry.”
You were so much older then, you’re younger than that now.
GOAL! Fulham 1-1 Everton (Decordova-Reid 15)
This is beautifully done, Cairney’s cushioned return pass setting Decordova-Reid at Mina. His first touch is lovely, Mina looking like a waiter carrying a bunch of trays, and he steadies himself before drilling low across Pickford. “REDEMPTION!” cries Peter Drury in his lounge.
13 min Better from Fulham, Robinson wriggling for the line and cutting back a low pass that falls nicely for Decordova-Reid … who takes a wild swing and doesn’t get enough of it. That was a very good chance, but also very much better from Fulham.
12 min Everton are having their way with Fulham here, a simple give-and-go seeing Godfrey away down the right. His cross is a decent one too, all the more so when Aina makes a pig’s posterior of dealing with it, but Areola does just enough to stop Calvert-Lewin scoring again.
11 min On the touchline, Scott E. Parker looks absolutely furious, and a flicked ear away from bursting into tears.
10 min Robinson gives it away to Richarlison who immediately drives at the Fulham box, but Andersen does well to get in the road.
8 min I’m going to sound extremely yer da here, which I guess is what I am (if I’m really honest wiv myself), but crossing a dead ball is a repeatable skill, so why are players so bad at it? Are they practising hard enough?
7 min Fulham win a free-kick on the right, not far outside the box, and Cairney curls it directly onto Richarlison’s Spud-like bonce. Nonsense.
5 min “Can I shock you Daniel?” says Stephen Carr. “Fulham are mindbendingly awful.”
It’s not looking good. There are loads of examples of teams who’ve started dreadfully then stayed up, but it’s extremely hard to identify a way for that to happen with these.
3 min Just as the goal came I was noting Martin Keown’s observation that only three of Fulham’s starting XI started on the opening day of the season. That does not speak well of their process, though they did finish last season late.
2 min Goodness me, that is a heel to Fulham’s collective solar plexus.
GOAL! Fulham 0-1 Everton (Calvert-Lewin, 42 seconds)
And there’s Richarlison de Andrade! Decordova-Reid gives it away shpritzing a crossfield ball, it hits Adarabioyo, and Richarlison pounces, dashing down the left side of the box and screwing over a low cross that Calvert-Lewin runs home barely aware of the fact.
1 min Off we go, using the winter ball which is no doubt sponsored by sponsorship.
There’s going to be a swimming pool on top of the new stand they’re building at Craven Cottage. That is so Fulham.
Email! “Love the PSG tache photo,” says Mark Hooper, “but I’m afraid the caption is wrong. It should read ‘DS Tosh Lines is joined by PC Reg Hollis (disguised as a football ‘casual’) before a drugs bust.”
Ancelotti tells Lineker that his team lost a bit of spirit in the last few weeks and he’s pleased to have Richarlison back. He also reiterates that he’s worked with Calvert-Lewin on one-touch finishes, like Inzaghi.
Naturally, Murphy doesn’t like the panenka, but Lineker explains that goalies watch your technique so you need to change things up. I wonder about this – if you can drill it top corner every time, why wouldn’t you, because there’s nothing the keeper can do. When Bruno Fernandes had to take one with the last kick of the game at Brighton, he didn’t jump or hop, he just cleansed it into the postage stamp and raised his arms.
“I like anyone who’s brave enough to take penalties,” says former penalty-taker Danny Mills.
Scott Parker says his team “Are improving in many ways (to be quite honest wiv you),” even in the games they’ve drawn and lost. He confirms that Mitrovic is on the bench for tactical reasons, and he’s picked a team he thinks can hurt Everton, then goes on to say that he’s spoken to both Mitrovic and Lookman about penalties and getting their process right.
Danny Murphy has seen more of Fulham than I have, and thinks they’ve bought much more sensibly than last time they came up, and have improved defensively of late. Like any selfish football fan, I hope they stay up because I love going to Craven Cottage to say nothing of the standard of hostelries in the locale.
Something to nourish your jelly-stuff:
That is an extract from this, in which you can also find Barney Ronay, Scott Murray and John Brewin.
Tangentially, QPR beat Liverpool to reach that final, Liverpool contriving two own-goals in the second leg of the semi.
Simple but classic.
Especially given it was replaced with this.
Especially given it didn’t previously exist (but Malcolm Shotton’s did, oh yes).
I’m very much enjoying the mustache feature above, so here’s a favourite of mine.
But otherwise, let’s have a chat about what it all means. Scott E. Parker has Mario Lemina available again, so he comes back into midfield with Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa dropping out, while in attack, Ivan Cavaleiro replaces Aleksandr Mitrovic.
As for Everton, Richarlison returns for Bernard, who scored last time out, Gylfi Sigurdsson is replaced by Alex Iwobi, while Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina come in for Mason Holgate and Seamus Coleman.
There’s some hope here for Fulham. Unless Everton are playing 3-5-2, Godfrey will be at right-back, where he was given an absolute going-over by Southampton a couple of games ago; what better way for Lookman to redeem himself than by getting stuck into that?
Everton, meanwhile, will benefit from the ball-carrying of Iwobi, even if his decision-making needs attention.
And then I presume we all thought about Ademola Lookman. It will have been a long international break for him.
Fulham (a good, honest, old-fashioned 4-2-3-1): Areola; Aina, Adarabioyo, Andersen, Robinson; Reed, Lemina; Lookman, Cairney, Cavaleiro; Reid. Subs: Rodak, Odoi, Ream, Bryan, Anguissa, Loftus-Cheek, Mitrovic.
Everton (a continental 4-4-expletive-2): Pickford; Godfrey, Keane, Mina, Digne; Iwobi, Doucouré, Allan, James; Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison. Subs: Olsen, Holgate, Davies, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Tosun.
VAR’s straight man: Andy Madley (Huddersfield)
It’s only November, but this is an absolutely colossal game. Fulham are fourth-bottom of the table, and I’m sure they’d be happy to still be there in mid-May, but the portents are not positive. That they have not looked good since getting promoted is only part of it – just as troubling for them is that below them are Burnley and Sheffield United, better teams with better players and better managers, who can legitimately be expected to improve, and above them are Brighton, Leeds, Newcastle and West Ham, better teams with better players and better managers. Which is to say that we’re watching a change in the Premier League this season: the majority of bottom-half sides can give all top-half sides a proper sorting.
So Fulham need to get some points and fast, and in theory, a home game with Everton, who’ve lost three games in a row, is a decent candidate. Except those three defeats have coincided with the suspension of Richarlison who, for all the artistry of James Rodríguez, goals of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and dark arts of Allan is still the team’s best and most important player. He’s back today, and there’s a fair chance he’ll make a decisive difference.
Oh, and it’s live on BBC1!
Kick-off: 12pm GMT