http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2891/previews/2010/04/24/1892951/premier-league-preview-everton-fulhamPremier League Preview: Everton - Fulham
Toffees target Europa League as Cottagers eye final in Hamburg
By Jamie Dunn
24 Apr 2010 16:30:00
Kickoff: Sunday 25 April, 15:00 BST
Goodison Park, Everton
After a slow start to their Premier League campaign, Everton turned a corner at the start of 2010 and haven't looked back since. David Moyes' side have arguably been the form side at the turn of the decade, losing just three times in the league all year, claiming the scalps of Chelsea and Manchester United in the process.
Injuries hampered Moyes' squad early on, but that weight has been almost lifted and, as a result of the Toffees' rejuvenated form, coupled with Portsmouth's lack of a UEFA license, the Goodison Park faithful are hopeful of qualification for the Europa League.
Reaching next season's competition would most likely come at the expense of seventh-placed Liverpool and a win over Fulham could reduce the gap between the Merseyside rivals to just two points. Completely derailing the Reds' year would make success all the more sweet.
Fulham are out of the running for European places this season, but their commitments on the continent are far from over. Roy Hodgson's side battled to a goalless draw at the Nordbank Arena in Hamburg and, should they secure a victory at Craven Cottage, the Whites will be returning to Germany for the Europa League final in May.
Hodgson has admitted to having one eye on midweek endeavours in the past and is likely to change the side that played on Thursday in order to rest key personnel. Regardless, Everton should still expect a tough test from a side that has proven to be extremely difficult to break down for long spells of the season.
Blackburn 2-3 Everton (Premier League)
Aston Villa 2-2 Everton (Premier League)
Everton 2-2 West Ham (Premier League)
Wolves 0-0 Everton (Premier League)
Man City 0-2 Everton (Premier League)
Hamburg 0-0 Fulham (Europa League)
Fulham 0-0 Wolves (Premier League)
Liverpool 0-0 Fulham (Premier League)
Wolfsburg 0-1 Fulham (Europa League)
Fulham 2-1 Wigan (Premier League)
Moyes has only a handful of injury worries ahead of Sunday's game; John Heitinga [ankle] is forced out, while long-term absentees Marouane Fellaini [foot] and Dan Gosling [knee] are still missing.
Possible Starting XI: Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Bilyaletdinov, Neville, Cahill, Arteta, Pienaar; Saha.
Bobby Zamora has aggravated an Achilles injury and is unlikely to be risked ahead of the Europa League second-leg with Hamburg. Andrew Johnson [knee] is out for the season, and Simon Davies [rib] is a doubt, but John Pantsil, who has been out for four months, could make his long-awaited return.
Possible Starting XI: Schwarzer; Pantsil, Smalling, Hughes, Shorey; Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey; Gera; Okaka.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
He may be lucky to be available for selection following a petulant poke to the eye of Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen, but Mikel Arteta has played a central role in Everton's rejuvenation. The midfielder is a cultured player of the highest class who, were it not for the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Xavi, would surely be bound for South Africa this summer.
With Bobby Zamora set to miss out due to injury, Stefano Okaka may get another chance to impress at Goodison Park. The young striker is cup-tied for Europa League duty and so is missing the European adventure, but the on-loan forward could endear himself to Fulham fans with a few Premier League goals before returning to Roma.
Fulham fans haven't seen a goal in over four and a half hours of football. That is likely to change at Goodison Park against an Everton side who have conceded two goals in their last three games, but should edge this encounter.
Everton 2-1 Fulham