Match Report A new season kicking off under a different manager than the one who began the last with hope rather than optimism this time that the club won’t be mired in a relegation dogfight come May… There has been change at Everton over the past 12 months and yet so much remains depressingly the same. No Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the match-day squad, no meaningful alternative up front in his stead, incoming attacking reinforcements not yet signed or not available, and, not surprisingly, a number of gilt-edged chances spurned in a match that Sean Dyche is, no doubt, still wondering how the Blues lost. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The more things change at Goodison Park, the more they seem to stay the same. The manager pointed to the mystifying decision by Stuart Attwell — no change on that front; he remains a pitifully poor referee — to penalise James Tarkowski for a "foul" on Bernd Leno after the Fulham goalkeeper went over the top of him, spilled the ball and Michael Keane knocked it into the empty net. But even without that controversial decision, Everton should have won this match comfortably. Fulham dominated the possession, as Marco Silva would surely have expected, but they looked a shadow of the side that made such an impressive start to 2022-23 and they didn’t muster a shot on target until substitute Bobby de Cordova-Reid converted Andreas Pereira’s centre in the 73rd minute. It was the Toffees who created almost all the chances — they would finish with a higher xG without scoring than any team did in a game during all of last season — but would count the cost of their profligacy in front of goal, with Abdoulaye Doucouré passing up the chance to either score or lay on an early opener, Neal Maupay failing to convert either of two good chances and Nathan Patterson somehow contriving to hit the bar with Everton’s best chance of the second half. This was by far a better performance than the one against the same opposition in April when the stakes were considerably higher. Everton were slick and purposeful at times, pressing tenaciously, seizing on the opposition’s mistakes and looking to cut through them in transition. But the mistakes of last season haven’t been learned or addressed. Which is why Maupay, who missed a great chance to score what would have been only his second goal in a Blue jersey in the same fixture last term, was leading the line looking just as unsuitable an option in that role as ever. One argument will go that he was at least in the right place in the right time for opportunities in front of goal; another might credit Leno with two very good point-blank saves; but the end result was that the Frenchman’s goal drought goes on and Everton began the season as they did the last — with a home defeat to West London opposition and no points on the board following a winnable game. With Calvert-Lewin having only managed 90 minutes of pre-season football and Youssef Chermiti having only had his protracted move from Sporting CP yesterday, Dyche deployed the unreliable Maupay at centre-forward in front of Doucouré while James Garner and Alex Iwobi lined up on the flanks, Ashley Young made his debut at left-back and Keane was paired with Tarkowski at the back. A brilliant fifth-minute attack by the hosts set the tone for the first half as Amadou Onana threaded Doucouré in between the two visiting centre-halves and with Maupay to his left and Garner to his right, he had simple options that would surely have guaranteed a goal but he elected to shoot himself and Bernd Leno got a crucial toe to the ball to divert it wide. Two more counter-attacks midway through the first period provided shooting opportunities for Iwobi but his first was deflected behind and the second he dragged narrowly wide from 18 yards out before Tarkowksi couldn’t get enough purchase on Garner’s free-kick to trouble Leno after the former had been chopped down by Willian’s ugly stamp. Everton retained the upper hand as the half wore on and when Doucouré nodded Iwobi’s cross from the left down to Maupay, the Frenchman was denied at point-blank range by the keeper. When the ball was hooked back into the box and Keane knocked the loose ball home, Attwell called play back, the official determining that Tarkowski had fouled Leno when it appeared as though he had simply stood his ground as the keeper jumped over him. Nevertheless, the Blues continued to carve out chances without being threatened at all at the other end, Doucouré testing Leno with a strong shot after superb work by Iwobi and an interception by the Nigerian allowing the Mali international to play Maupay in but he was foiled by the goalkeeper again from close quarters as he tried to prod the ball home. The second half began in scrappier and more even fashion than had been the pattern in the first but the Cottagers soon began to threaten as Saša Lukić bounced a half-volley wide off a corner and Raul Jimenez saw a shot come back off the base of the upright with what was his last contribution before being replaced by Aleksandar Mitrovic just before the hour mark. But it was Everton who really should have taken the lead — and, perhaps, the points as a result — when Iwobi fired goal-wards, Leno could only push it into the path of Patterson at the back post and the defender, with almost entire goal to aim at, planted a first-time effort onto the crossbar instead. Four minutes later, after Harry Wilson had fizzed an effort inches over at the other end, it was 1-0 Fulham. Marco Silva’s men had cut their way through Everton’s midfield, dragged Keane out of position outside his box so when the ball was played down the channel to Pereira, the hosts were short-handed in the centre when the Belgian hooked it across the face of goal and De Cordova-Reid just had to tap in at the back stick. De Cordova-Reid volleyed a gilt-edged chance to kill the contest over the bar four minutes later and Mitrovic’s goal-bound was blocked, legally according to Video Assistant Referee Anthony Taylor, by Tarkowski’s arm either side of Dyche’s decision to throw Lewis Dobbin on in place of the unfortunate Garner and switch Iwobi to the right flank. And Iwobi came close to levelling in the 85th minute when he arrived to meet Young’s cross but Leno beat it behind at his near post while Tarkowski had the last chance to salvage a point but his stooping header flashed across goal and narrowly missed the far post. There was a frustrating familiarity about the way this game played out — Everton having the upper hand early on, failing to take their chances and then seeing the opposition come into the contest in the second half before picking the Blues off with the only goal they would need on the day. Dyche, as is customary, waited until the 70-odd-minute mark to make his first change and while he was unfortunate that Fulham scored on the very next attack following Arnaut Danjuma’s introduction for Maupay, he later opted for Lewis Dobbin as an attacking wide player rather than a genuine centre-forward option like Tom Cannon when Everton were chasing the game. Unless things do click in the transfer market over the next three works, Calvert-Lewin comes back for an extended run of fitness and/or Chermiti hits the ground running as a teenage revelation, you get the feeling that this air of depressing predictability is going to hang around the Blues all season. The next three weeks have the potential to be very significant. Lyndon Lloyd top Matchday Updates Everton started the new season at home to Fulham with a quite ridiculous loss after they squandered a plethora of chances to score. Sean Dyche was without Dwight McNeil, Seamus Coleman, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin who was not risked as his protection continues in an effort to get him fully fit for the rigours of the Premier League. Other missing players were Demarai Gray, who may be moving to Fulham, and Jean-Philippe Gbamin, who may be injured. Potential debutant Arnaut Danjuma was only on the bench along with Jarrad Branthwaite as Dyche eschews any risks that youth may bring and instead decides to stick with experience in the form of the players who were largely responsible for last season's dismal record in the Premier League. Fulham kicked off in bright sunshine but gave it away to Maupay who fired wastefully wide. At the other end, Fulham sliced through the Everton defence to the far post with shocking ease but Caireney volleyed the corner high over the Gwladys Street goal. After another scare, Everton broke quickly and Doucouré found himself in an excellent position but fired too close to Leno who stuck out his foot to save. The ref then watched the Fulham keeper blatantly pick up a backpass off a goal kick but just made them retake it rather than award an indirect free-kick to Everton. Fulham were like tigers whenever they lost possession, double-teaming poor Garner, whereas Everton were far too casual to keep the ball, Patterson giving it away sloppily. Then a poor ball from Onana surrendered possession. The contrast was shocking. Iwobi did well to win the ball and feed Doucouré but he was too easily dispossessed, albeit for a corner that came to nothing. But Everton did break with a great crossfield pass from Onana to Iwobi who ran in on goal but shot into the defender for a corner. Gueye tried to shoot but he was blocked. Maupay shot at goal but he was flagged offside. Onana tried a hard pinpoint pass forward to Doucouré that bounced back off him but Maupay found Iwobi and he tried to shoot on goal but it flew wide. Fulham had the lion's share of possession and were playing the ball around like they were the home side, but they were not actually getting all that close to the Everton goal. Onana was floored but the referee played advantage which came to nothing for Everton. Maupay had another chance to advance with the ball but hesitated appallingly and Robinson stole the ball off him. Then Willian stood on Garner's foot and rightly saw yellow from Stewart Atwell. The free-kick was difficult for Tarkowski to do much with at the far post. After a spell of Fulham pressure, Iwobi had another great probing run but it all broke down just too easily. But another great ball out to Iwobi was crossed well to Doucoure and fell to Maupay who should have scored but could only bundle it into Leno. Leno collected a cross but then dropped it with Tarkowski backing into him as Keane rolled the loose ball into the net but Atwell immediately disallowed it, with no from the VAR. Everton got a free-kick after Garner's shirt was pulled but his free-kick was easily defended by Fulham. Iwobi showed some tremendous speed and skill down the left and crossed well to Onana who shot it straight at Leno. Maupay again got a brilliant through ball played to him but could only toe-poke a poor shot straight at Leno. Gana was next to go on a decent run and lay it off to Patterson but his effort at goal was just ridiculous. More decent build-up play, this time down the right with Garner who fed Maupay, but he could not get any power into his shot which Leno saved with ease. The first half ended with only 1 minute of added time, and provided a painful testament to Everton's chronic inability to score from a host of chances, Maupay especially profligate. The second half started pretty scrappily with a string of throw-ins. Garner did very well to bring the ball out of defence and there was another nice through-ball to Maupay but up went the offside flag again. At the other end, Patterson headed behind under no real pressure. Another corner followed, Lukic shooting well wide. A couple of Fulham free-kicks came to nothing but on the next Fulhamm attacj Jiminez hit the post with Pickford well beaten and the rebound then fired well over. Silva decided on a couple more changes. Patterson tried a shot from a distance after a corner but it was well blocked. Some nice football saw Young cross well but it evaded Patterson, the defender just getting a touch. Better forward play won another corner that finally roused the faithful. Garner's corner caused havoc but everyone missed it and went out for another when worked around. That was headed clear by Diop, towering above everyone. Mitrovic felt something in the melé and had to go off after just 5 minutes. But then decided perhaps he could carry on and Vinicius sat back down. Iwobi did well to create space and shoot, forcing a parry from Leno straight to Patterson who shined it straight onto the bar with the goal gapping! A really shocking miss. At the other end, a threatening drive by Wilson but he shot over. Bar this rare venture, Everton kept pushing forward now, but the squandered chances were becoming a massive burden. Arnaut Danjuma replaced Neal Maupay to a good crowd response – for one or the other. But instantly, from a good cross by Reed, Cordova-Reid scored from virtually nothing as the cross evaded Pickford. What an absolute disaster! Everton tried to respond but Cordova-Reid came very close again with an almost identical move for the goal. The Bues tried to build painfully slowly now down the right, Graner getting fouled. Gwladys Street screamed for a push in the area but the ball was then moved forward at pace by Fulham, winning a corner. Everton cleared it but the build-up was laboured. Eventually, Onana scooped a weak shot in for Leno to catch. Dobbin came on with 7 minutes plus to go. Another incredible chance came with a good cross that Dobbin headed backward and Iwobi could not convert at the far post when confronted by the unbeatable Leno. From the corner, Keane headed the ball straight to him. Danjuma then had a good drive down the left but again Leno grasped the ball. Fulham worked the ball to Mitrovic but his low shot was straight at Pickford. From a Fulham corner, a shot was blocked by Tarkowski's elbow but strangely no penalty given – even with the VAR review. At the other end, Doucure tried to drive through, eventually winning a corner. Gueye tried his usual shot which missed but was slightly deflected, The corner was worked around to Tarkowski whose header flew past the far post. Silva was booked for something as 6 minutes of added time went up. Danjiuma was released to run on goal but he couldn't score either, and was then flagged offside. A final free-kick was headed goalward by Keane who was then flagged offside – a fitting end to a really painful exhibition. Everton: Pickford, Patterson, Keane, Tarkowski, Young, Gana, Onana, Doucoure, Garner (83' Dobbin), Iwobi, Maupay (72' Danjuma). Subs not Used: Virginia, Mykolenko, Gomes, Godfrey, Branthwaite, Cannon, Onyango. Fulham: Leno; Tete [Y:87'], Ream, Diop, Robinson; Reed, Lukic, Wilson, Cairney (58' Pereira), Willian [Y:30'] (46' De Cordova-Reid); Jimenez (58' Mitrovic). Subs not Used: Rodak, Bassey, Mbabu, Dibley-Dias, Stansfield, Vinicius. Attendance: 38,940 Michael Kenrick top Match Preview Everton kick off what might be their last full season at Goodison Park this weekend as the Premier League resumes again and the Blues take on Fulham. It is Everton’s 70th consecutive season in the top flight thanks to the club’s latest great escape, which they executed on the final day of 2022-23 on the back of some huge results at Leicester, Brighton and Wolves and, of course, Abdoulaye Doucouré’s wonder strike against Bournemouth. Despite the chorus of “never again” from supporters, the club goes into the new campaign once again short in key areas, not least up front, where Dominic Calvert-Lewin faces a pivotal year in his bid to maintain consistent fitness, and in central defence where Yerry Mina’s departure has not been addressed by a comparable new signing. The hope and belief among many Blues is that Jarrad Branthwaite will be able to step into the breach created by the Colombian leaving on a free transfer but there is also a feeling that the defence lacks pace and the kind of dominance that Mina offered on the rare occasions he was fit. Branthwaite is coming off a hugely successful spell on loan at PSV Eindhoven and the fact that he started last weekend’s home friendly with Sporting could be a hint that Sean Dyche will entrust him with partnering James Tarkowski who has shaken off a knock he sustained against the Portuguese. Nathan Patterson will likely get the nod at right-back while Ashley Young is expected to make his debut at left-back where he will provide enormous experience and initial cover for Vitalii Mykolenko who has not had the benefit of a full pre-season. With Dwight McNeil out injured, the midfield largely picks itself, with James Garner, Idrissa Gueye, Amadou Onana and Alex Iwobi set to start with Doucouré playing off the striker. Who that striker will be remains to be seen. Calvert-Lewin has only played two halves of pre-season football and Dyche hinted last week that that would not be enough even if the player himself feels ready. Youssef Chermiti is expected to be unveiled as Everton’s third signing of the summer and will hopefully have been registered in time to be eligible for this weekend’s fixture but he won’t start having only just arrived. That will likely mean Neal Maupay leading the line with what will perhaps be one of a few last chances to prove he has something to offer in a Dyche system before the transfer deadline. Fulham were one of the surprise packages of last season under ex-Everton boss, Marco Silva, even if they went off the boil slightly in the final third of the campaign and finished a laudable 10th. They had an excellent result at Goodison in April in what looked, at the time, to have been a hammer blow to the Toffees’ hopes of staying up but they come into the new season under something of a cloud with leading scorer and main danger man Aleksandar Mitrovic’s future up in the air. Silva has been able to add Raul Jiminez from Wolves but he has not been the same player since coming back from a long lay-off following a nasty skull fracture. Dyche, having enjoyed a decent record in home games since taking over from Frank Lampard in January, will be hoping to get off to a flyer with an opening-day victory that would go a long way to settling the nerves and providing a platform onto which further signings over the rest of the month can be added. Kick-off: 3 pm, Saturday 12 August 2023Referee: Stuart AttwellVAR: Anthony TaylorLast Time: Everton 1 - 3 Fulham Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Young, Gueye, Onana, Garner, Iwobi, Doucouré, Maupay Lyndon Lloyd top * Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.