Everton V Fulham at Goodison Park - Match Preview
Updated Friday, 27th April 2012
Moyes hails Jelavic impact
Striker Nikica Jelavic's impressive form has not only helped Everton finish the season strongly but has given the players renewed belief, according to manager David Moyes.
The #5.5million January signing has scored seven times in his last six matches, with his double in the 4-4 draw at Old Trafford last weekend making it five in three appearances.
He has given the Toffees a much-needed cutting edge which was distinctly lacking in the early part of the season when they dominated games but failed to take opportunities.
But they are averaging over two goals a game in the last half-dozen fixtures and scoring four against Manchester United shows what difference a threat up front can make.
"At the moment his form has been excellent and he has exceeded expectations," said Moyes of the former Rangers forward.
"He has finished moves off and made us look clinical in the box.
"In the early part of the season it looked like we would have to score a brilliant goal.
"Now if we get the ball in the box he will be on the end of a lot of things, whether it be with his head like last week or some of the finishes with his feet recently."
Moyes admits he has not yet worked out the ideal way to get the best use out of the 26-year-old but is more than happy with the striker's goal tally.
"I wasn't sure how quickly he would settle," added the Scot.
"I wasn't totally sure how he would fit in and when I brought him in I thought we would start to rebuild bits of the team.
"I'm sure we are still looking to see what is the best type of player to play with Jelavic and how we can mould that for the years to come."
Midfielder Leon Osman is set to make his 300th appearance and Moyes was full of praise for the academy graduate.
"He has been a great servant ever since I came in here," he said of the 30-year-old.
Everton will again be without defender Leighton Baines and midfielder Jack Rodwell.
Baines is still sidelined with the hamstring injury which forced him to miss out last weekend while Rodwell has not played for six weeks because of a similar problem.
Centre-back Sylvain Distin is expected to deputise on the left of defence once more but on-loan Royston Drenthe is not likely to return to the squad having been disciplined before the FA Cup semi-final.
John Arne Riise is targeting a Merseyside double over the next four days that could set Fulham on course for a top-seven finish.
Fulham tackle Everton and then cross Stanley Park to face FA Cup finalists Liverpool on Tuesday night at Anfield.
"With two good results we can go above both teams and that is a big thing for us," said Riise, Fulham's former Liverpool full-back.
"I knew this was a club that would like to be in the top 10 regularly and be consistent on that.
"I don't think anyone would be expecting us to be fighting with Everton and Liverpool for places in the league.
"In that point we have done well and probably Liverpool have underachieved."
Fulham have rediscovered their form in recent weeks, building a run of three league wins and a home draw with Chelsea from their last four matches.
"It will be a tough game (against Everton) but we have been on a good run of results and I am confident we can go there and hopefully get a good result," Riise told Fulham's official website.
"It's been a tough place to go for the Fulham players and the fans. Hopefully we can change that this weekend."
Striker Pavel Pogrebnyak slipped right back into the groove with a goalscoring return against Wigan last weekend, after missing two matches with an ankle injury.
Clint Dempsey spearheaded Fulham's attack in Pogrebnyak's absence, scoring three times, but together he believes they are a force to be reckoned with.
"Clint Dempsey has done very well when he has played as a striker against Bolton and Chelsea. I really enjoy playing up front when Clint is in midfield because when we are playing together on the field, we are great," Pogrebnyak said.
"The match on Saturday will be a very important contest because both teams are looking for points in the table.
"As we say in Russia `the appetite comes with the food' and I believe we can do better as a team and finish the season strongly."
Fulham also have striker Andrew Johnson available, although long-term absentees Bryan Ruiz, Steve Sidwell and Zdenek Grygera are out.
Manager Martin Jol has been unwell this week but the club were uncertain, when contacted, whether he had been well enough to travel.