27 August 2005

Fulham 1-0 Everton

Since my Gunners aren't playing this weekend, I'm an enforced neutral for this week's games. So, for today I'm watching Fulham-Everton. It's turned out to be a nice 1-0 win for the Cottagers, behind a nicely worked goal for Brian McBride. I'm certainly happy to see him getting a good start to the season.

I'm intrigued by both teams, to see if they live up to their expectations. Everton, that they're as good as their 4th place finish last year. And Fulham, that they're truly a relegation candidate.

I hate to judge too much by this game since both teams played mid-week: Fulham in the well-fought but fruitless loss to Arsenal; Everton in their desperate 2-1 loss to Villareal in the Champions' league. Both teams had their share of mistakes, which I'd pin on three games in a week's time. Still, it was interesting to watch.

Fulham have their problems. They make far too many mistakes and at times they look out of their depth. But I was amazed at the improvement after they scored the goal. Suddenly they had tremendous energy and were able to sustain their attack much better than before. I think Chris Coleman's #1 job is to instill a sense of belief in the team; if he can do that, I think they can hang on and comfortably remain in the Prem. But this is a team that could implode, if they lose faith.

Everton are tougher to figure. They certainly have skill and ability, and really they had enough good chances that they should have won the match. And yet they couldn't unlock the Fulham goal (despite far too many Fulham mistakes in defense). My guess is that they're just too thin in numbers to fight for both the Premiership and UEFA cup, particularly if they make it to the UEFA group stage. They should qualify for Europe again, but I think Champions' League play may be out of reach.

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