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Premier League

Fulham manager Martin Jol says Everton are 'the best of the rest'


Martin Jol will tomorrow measure Fulham's free-scoring progress in the Premier League this season against an Everton side he describes as “the best of the rest”.

The Fulham manager has seen his side score 19 league goals so far, a tally only bettered by leaders Chelsea and Manchester United.

But it is David Moyes' side who Jol believes are the standard bearers for sides such as Fulham.

Jol said: "We always admire Everton. Everton are an example for so many clubs.

"Over the last 10 or 12 years most of the time they were in the top seven. Outside the recognised top clubs I think they are the best.

"They don't have the resources of Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs. Last season we were almost like them and then we lost to Spurs and they were four points ahead of us and that was a great statistic to be near Everton because I see them as being the best of the rest."

Fulham lie in seventh position, two places behind Everton but a win for either side at Craven Cottage tomorrow could take them into the top four depending on results elsewhere.

Yet Jol admits his biggest problem is keeping a squad happy with so many striking options.

Fulham may have lost the firepower of Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele in the summer transfer window but Dimitar Berbatov, Brian Ruiz, Hugo Rodallega and Mladen Petric have given Jol a headache when it comes to selecting a striking partnership.

Jol said: "We have scored as many goals so far as normally we would until February or April, so that is good. We lost our top scorers but up until now it is more productive than it was before."

Asked if it was a challenge keeping them all happy, he said: "It is difficult but that is my job. I see them as luxury problems with all these players up front."

Everton are no slouches either when it comes to goals, having scored 17 in their nine games so far this season.

Jol puts the Everton success down to the consistency of manager Moyes, who has assembled a squad of quality players.

Jol said: "If you are at a club like Everton for many years then you must be doing something. There is a good structure to the club, they buy one player every year and fit him in. There is a consistency.

"We have done that in the last couple of years and hopefully we can do that in the future. They are the benchmark for a lot of clubs."

This season Jol has identified one or two outstanding Everton individuals who are making a difference at Goodison Park.

One is full-back Leighton Baines, who stood in for Arsenal's Ashley Cole in England's World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

Jol said: "Baines is the best full-back in Britain at the moment. I like Everton, they are tough and physical and they can play. It is a great combination."

Another who gets the Jol seal of approval is Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

Jol said: "They have real team players. Fellaini is an unbelievable player. He has developed into a top international player.

"Steven Pienaar is an individual who can hurt you too. Then they have (Nikica) Jelavic, who came from Scotland, and he was the player they needed. Phil Jagielka is underestimated but he is an international player. They are a good team."

Fulham have no new injury worries with defender Chris Baird having recovered from a minor injury he received when he slid into advertising hoardings celebrating his headed goal against Reading last weekend. Meanwhile, midfielder Simon Davies continues to recover from a hip operation while French midfielder Mickael Tavares is out with a hamstring problem.