Marco Silva and his players might be ignoring the Premier League table to ensure that Fulham don’t get too carried away with an excellent start on their return to the top flight, but there is a real feelgood factor around Craven Cottage at the moment. The Whites have left plenty of pundits with egg on their faces already as an ultra-attacking approach has seen one of the summer favourites for relegation register eighteen points from twelve matches in what is their joint best start to a top flight campaign – level-pegging with the opening to the 2003/04 season under Chris Coleman. Silva was at pains to point out yesterday that, firstly, nothing is settled in October and, secondly, Everton will pose a serious threat to their hopes of registering three top-flight wins in a row for the first time since in three years.

The Portuguese head coach faces his former employers for the first time since he was sacked after a Merseyside derby drubbing in December 2019 but insists there will be nothing particularly special about the meeting. He says he has learned from his experience at Goodison Park, analysing his failings to become a better manager, and you can see how has adjusted to life in the top flight by the banks of the River Thames by bringing in top quality to supplement the style Fulham showed in his first season at the helm. The additions of Bernd Leno, who has already made vital saves since replacing Marek Rodak in goal, and Joao Palhinha – the top flight’s top tackler at present – have proven pivotal to helping the newly-promoted side bank points in the early weeks of the campaign that could become crucial should Fulham’s form tail off post the winter break for the World Cup.

Everton have been inconsistent under Frank Lampard, who will be sure to get a hot reception on his return to SW6, but the Toffees showed just what they are capable of with a delicious dismantling of Crystal Palace last weekend. There was a sizzling goal that owed everything to playing out from the back – set up by Jordan Pickford – and the electrifying return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Gareth Southgate’s understudy to Harry Kane at the European Championships, who must be eyeing a late run into the England equation having scored one and made another in front of his national team manager last time out. Everton will be dangerous in the forward areas with young Anthony Gordon, who also scored against Palace, looking irrepressible and Alex Iwobi – now utilised in the number ten role – finally delivering the consistently class performances his potential has always hinted it.

Lampard has something of a selection dilemma to solve this evening as Nathan Patterson, an £11m signing from Rangers in January, has returned to training after picking up an ankle injury on international duty and could be set to edge out the experienced Seamus Coleman at right back. Everton are still without Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey, although Conor Coady, who came through the Melwood academy set-up, and former Brentford centre back James Tarkowski are able deputies at the heart of the defence. The Blues also benefit from the tenacity of Belgian international Amadou Onana alongside Idrissa Gueye, who returned to Everton over the summer, in the engine room as they chase back-to-back league victories at the Cottage for the first time in their history.

Silva has his own right back headache to ponder ahead of kick off. Bobby Decordova-Reid has deputised so outstandingly for Kenny Tete, including scoring a superb glancing header at Elland Road last Sunday, that the Dutch international isn’t certain to start despite finally shaking off a persistent hamstring problem. The Fulham boss might move the versatile Jamaican into the right wing role in place of Harry Wilson, who made his first start of the season at Leeds last weekend, to try and nullify the influence of Demarai Gray as dropping Decordova-Reid from the starting line-up would be harsh in the extreme after his superb showings in recent weeks. He could also alter his back four further to cope with Calvert-Lewin after Issa Diop was benched for the win in Yorkshire.

Fulham have looked absolutely fabulous going forward this season, posing a threat to Premier League defences from the outset that has been missing during their last three top flight campaigns. Aleksandar Mitrovic, primed to perform for Serbia in Qatar next month, is in the form of his life but getting the service to the Serbian has always been the difference between feast and famine at this level. Silva certainly has options in the wide areas, with the evergreen Willian rolling back the years on the wing, Wilson finally able to contribute after recovering from the serious knee injury inflicted by Tyrone Mings’ terrible tackle in July, and Neeskens Kebano looking irresistible amongst England’s elite having been handed a regular run in the side. Dan James, ineligible for the visit to his parent club last time out, still has to show his best form as well. Add in the artistry of Andreas Pereira and you have creativity that even the best defences have found it difficult to stifle.

Silva’s penchant for playing total football means his side still look fragile at the back. Fulham fans have embraced the rollercoaster after being bored stiff by the dullness deployed by his predecessor, but – importantly – the Whites have shown in their two terrific away wins over the past six six weeks and, recently at home against Bournemouth, that they know how to come from behind to pick up points. The gaps left at one end of the field mean that Fulham may have to score three or more in a top-flight fixture for a third game in a row for the first time in 1966 to secure three more precious points tonight, but win, lose or draw, it is likely to be eye-catching stuff. A sold-out Craven Cottage will need to do their bit to roar Silva’s side on tonight.

MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, A. Robinson, Adarabioyo, Ream; Palhinha, Reed; Wilson, Willian, Pereira; Mitrovic. Subs: Rodak, Mbabu, Diop, Cairney, Harris, Kebano, Decordova-Reid, James, Vinicius.