Jack Stroudley looks ahead to our Premier League opener as the Whites travel to Everton.
The wait is almost over. Pre-season has finally finished and all eyes turn to the start of the 2023/24 Premier League campaign. A campaign which sees us travel to Merseyside on opening weekend to face Everton. Our fortunes at Goodison Park have turned in recent years, winning consecutive games there. With a slightly turbulent pre-season, how do Fulham achieve a dream start and travel back to London with all three points?
The Toffees are coming off the back of another disappointing season, securing survival on the final day for the second season running. Sean Dyche was hired in January with the aim of keeping Everton up, which he eventually did. The Toffees have made two signings so far this summer – experienced Ashley Young has come in from Aston Villa, while Arnaut Danjuma joins on loan from Villarreal.
Dyche has stated pre-match that Dwight McNeil as well as Seamus Coleman will be out injured for Saturday. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fit, but might only just make the bench and Fulham target Demarai Gray’s situation is unknown. Everton will look to pack out the midfield and make the game very physical with the likes of Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye being crucial for the Toffees this weekend.
So that’s the low down on the opposition, but how do Fulham prepare themselves for this one?
How do we prepare?
There are two injuries of note to talk about from a Fulham perspective. As expected, Joao Palhinha is out but Silva is positive about him returning soon. Andreas Pereira is also a doubt for Fulham on Saturday, here’s how I’d line-up.
There’s only one place to start and that’s up front. Marco Silva has claimed that Mitrovic is fit for Saturday, is ready to play and is back to the Mitrovic that he knows in training. That being said, I think we’ll give Jimenez the nod to start this week. The Mexican has been in training for longer and after scoring against Hoffenheim will be looking to get his first professional goal in a Fulham shirt. It wouldn’t shock me if Mitrovic was once again given 30 minutes in the second half, but I don’t expect him to start instantly.
With no Palhinha and Pereira the midfield does look slightly lighter with the inclusion of Lukic and De Cordova-Reid. The Serbian had a good pre-season and I expect him to shine this season, I am slightly concerned about the lack of physicality we have against this Everton side though.
The only other name of note to talk about is Calvin Bassey who starts for me ahead of Tim Ream who has just come back from injury. Bassey was exceptional against Hoffenheim and deserves to start our Premier League opener.
The final verdict
It wouldn’t shock me if Fulham turned up to Goodison Park and we saw a performance similar to our 3-1 victory back in April. But given a slightly turbulent pre-season and a light looking midfield, I think Everton’s physicality could be a problem. I am confident we’ll get a result on Saturday but I’m going to be slightly pessimistic and go for a draw.