Everton again put their top 4 hopes on the line as they travel to the south coast to take on Southampton at St Mary’s in Saturday’s early kickoff. Everton are coming off a convincing 2-0 victory over Manchester United and exacted the final nail into the coffin of David Moyes as United manager, the result continued to put pressure on Arsenal for 4th place. Southampton have enjoyed a terrific season, although with safety and a top half finish guaranteed, they have seen their form dip a bit with a loss at home to Cardiff followed by a 0-0 draw against Aston Villa last weekend. With this being the early kick off, 3pts for Everton will see them jump into 4th at the expense of Arsenal, who face Newcastle on Monday night, although being at home, and given the talent at their disposal, Southampton will pose a extremely tough test.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has said that it is tougher than ever to qualify for the Champions League saying
‘It’s going to get harder and harder, Look at the teams missing out, or currently sixth and seventh, Spurs and Manchester United, and you’d be expecting them to be fighting for the top four. ‘It’s just the nature of the competition and it’ll get harder and harder. It will be harder to get into the Champions League than win the title. That’s the way this league is going.
‘Look at the tally and you won’t see a league in world football where the difference between winning the title and finishing fifth is so close. For any team wanting top four it’ll be very difficult.’
Southampton Team News:
Southampton have a growing injury list and it has another casualty with midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin being ruled out of the match against Everton, due to a ‘last minute problem.’ He joins Jay Rodriguez, Maya Yoshida and Kelvin Davis on the injury list.
Possible Starting XI: Boruc, Shaw, Fonte, Lovren, Clyne, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, Cork, Davis, Lallana, Lambert
Player to watch: Adam Lallana
The boyhood Evertonian has really burst onto the scene this season and has been one of the major catalyst for the Saint’s impressive season. Lallana really does have all the tools to become a terrific player, his vision, passing ability, technique on the ball and eye for goal, make him one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders in this league, and he will need to be closely monitored for the entire 90mins by Everton
Everton Team News:
Everton suffered some casualties in their win over Man Utd with Martinez revealing after the match that Mirallas suffered a groin injury and will be out for the rest of the season. Sylvain Distin also could be set to miss the remaining 3 games after he was subbed off with a hamstring injury and will miss the match. With Jagielka still out with a hamstring problem, Antolin Alcaraz and the impressive Stones is expected to start against Southampton. Kone, Gibson, Traore and Oviedo are all long term absentees.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Coleman, Stones, Alcaraz, McCarthy, Barry, Deulofeu, McGeady, Naismith, Lukaku
Player to watch: Gerard Deulofeu
With Mirallas ruled out for the season, the on loan Barca man is expected to carry the load during this vital period for the club. The Spaniard has shown glimpses of brilliance that has him rated of one of the most promising youngsters in Europe and Everton will need to see that brilliance against Southampton. He is still not a finished article, with passing being an area he really needs to improve, but his ability to beat his opponent repeatedly and get to the by line, is unrivalled and it is what makes him a big danger for oppositions.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Everton have won 8 of their last 9 league games, including their last 3 away games
2. Southampton on the other hand are winless in 3 and lost 5 of their last 9 league games.
3. Everton recorded their biggest Premier League win over Southampton, a 7-1 drubbing in 1996.
4. Everton are winless in their last 4 trips to St Mary’s, drawing 3 of them.
5. Everton’s point’s tally of 69, is their highest at this stage of the season since the 1986/87 where they had 70pts. The 69pts is a Premier League record for Everton already with 3 games to go
Southampton has won many plaudits this season, and rightfully so, they have played some exciting football with some English players which is always nice to see. Their form has dipped in the past few weeks, which given the fact that they have very little to play for, isn’t exactly surprising and hopefully means it can play into Everton’s favour, as they desperately need the 3pts. At St Mary’s it will be tough, but Everton need to win, although I will sit on the fence and say a 1-1 draw. COYB!!! MUST WIN GAME LADS!! VITAL WE GET THE 3PTS!!!!