LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Marouane Fellaini of Everton celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Everton and Fulham at Goodison Park on January 27, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Martin Jol has been ill throughout the week, to such an extent that it still isn't clear whether he will travel with his Fulham side to Goodison Park, where they face an Everton side in quite sterling form. Perhaps, though, he isn't ill and is instead just avoiding the inevitable; the inevitable being a bleak and foreseeable defeat on Merseyside that would bring the tally to nineteen. In a row. I'd feign sickness if I knew those statistics.
Every side has their Achilles heel - a side they can never seem to fathom nor get around. For Fulham, David Moyes' men are that team and the facts and records continue to unravel, none of them looking at all favourable. We haven't won there in Premier League history and our F.A Cup defeat at their hands earlier in the campaign proved that remedy could not be found outside of league football. What sombre reading.
Nevertheless Fulham will travel, with or without Jol, with hope aplenty and, although it has probably been said before, on undoubtedly countless occasions, perhaps the Whites are better prepared than ever before to deal with the threat that the blue side of Liverpool pose.
Unfortunately, though, Everton find themselves in fine form having just applied a chink in the Manchester United title armour. At Old Trafford, striker Nikica Jelavic scored a brace as the Blues fought from two behind, twice, to draw 4-4 and give Manchester City the impetus to push United yet further in their pursuit of Premier League glory. What is more worrying, though, is Moyes' claim that the best is yet to come from the Croatian striker who is proving to be January's most astute signing. A 4-0 victory over Sunderland came before their Manchester exploits and Everton currently sit in seventh place, two points clear of Fulham.
The away side will carry some confidence into the fixture too, however, with this game tying off what has been a positive month for Jol's team. Wins over Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers have added vital points to the tally while a draw with Champions League finalists Chelsea showed the best of Fulham's abilities. Three points would not have been unjust after an astute footballing performance.
We've faced Everton on two occasions already this season, losing in the F.A Cup by two goals to one and things were just as damning at Craven Cottage. In one of the lower ebbs of Jol's Fulham tenure, the Whites fell to a 3-1 defeat on home soil. Last year in the same match, we lost 2-1.
Stephen Kelly returns for the visitors while Andrew Johnson is still in contention for a first team place. The only confirmed non absences are Bryan Ruiz, Zdenek Grygera and Steve Sidwell - all with long term setbacks.
Team prediction: Schwarzer; Riise, Hangeland, Hughes, Kelly; Dempsey, Murphy, Diarra, Duff; Dembele, Pogrebnyak
Score prediction: Everton 2-2 Fulham