Everton face the longest trip of their season as they travel to the South coast to take on Southampton at St Mary’s on Monday night. Everton will be looking to make up ground on 4th following their rather disappointing 0-0 draw against Swansea, a match in which Everton totally dominated. For Southampton, a lot has happened since their last match, a 2-2 draw against Chelsea during the week, a highly controversial decision to sack manager Nigel Adkins and replace him with Pochettino has left many fans asking questions towards the owners, and Everton will be looking to take advantage of this situation and take the 3pts home. As mentioned earlier, the result last weekend has left Everton trailing 3rd placed Chelsea by 5pts, however, with the teams around Everton facing each other, Everton will be hoping to climb the ladder and hoping to be 4th at the end of the night.
Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger looks ahead to the Saints match saying
“People will be watching us and expecting a lot from us because we’ve played so well in the past and that’s what we’ve got to justify. There is a lot of confidence among the players now with the results we’ve had but we definitely won’t underestimate Southampton. They’re fighting for every point, they want to stay in this league and they’re a good footballing side. But we have enough confidence to go there and say we want to win this game, and we’ve got every chance to do so.”
New Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino mentions the need to win over the Saints supporters saying
‘Fans are free to express their feelings, It is a great challenge to be here as part of this project and (winning) the kindness of the supporters is one of the biggest challenges that I have. I am sure they will be supporting the club for the 90 minutes the game will last. I hope I can convince them with hard work, honesty and that they enjoy the way the club plays and they feel honoured and proud how the team is playing.’
Southampton Team News:
Southampton are expected to bring back star duo Rickie Lambert and Gaston Ramirez into the starting line up after they started in the bench against Chelsea. New signing Vegrad Forren could be in line for a debut after signing from Molde during the week. However, it could be a week too soon for captain Adam Lallana who is still out with a knee injury. Portuguese defender Jose Fonte is also out with a knee injury.
Possible Starting XI: Boruc, Clyne, Forren, Yoshida, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Davis, Rodriguez, Puncheon, Ramirez, Lambert
Player to watch: Rickie Lambert
The big, physical Southampton frontman has adjusted to Premier League with ease. Southampton’s top scorer this season, as well as last season in the Championship, he will be hoping to capitalise on an unusually leaky defence, in which they have only kept 3 clean sheets this season. He will be aiming to use his big frame up against the Everton centre backs and cause them some problems.
Everton Team News:
Not much has changed for Everton squad wise. Belgian Kevin Mirallas is slowly edging his way back to full fitness, however, Monday night might be too early with the FA Cup tie against Bolton and the home fixture against West Brom more realistic targets. Johnny Heitinga is also edging close to a return and may return to the bench against Southampton. Everton captain Phil Neville is also a doubt after picking up a knock against Swansea and faces a late fitness test. Everton will definitely be without injured duo Darron Gibson (thigh) and Tony Hibbert (calf) for the clash.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Hitzlsperger, Osman, Pienaar, Anichebe, Fellaini, Jelavic
Player to watch: Nikica Jelavic
The Croatian hasn’t discovered the form he had when he joined last season, but he will be hoping that he can get on the scoresheet on Monday night. Everton will need his goals if they have any chance of finishing 4th. Although he hasn’t found the net all that often, his work rate is still exceptional and is a vital cog to the Everton side. He will be confident ahead of this match after bagging a brace against the Saints earlier this season. If he can find the net the against Saints, then Everton could be heading back home with the 3pts
Match Facts & Stats
1. The match against Southampton will signal David Moyes’ 499th game in charge of Everton
2. Everton have drawn 9 of their last 16 matches in the league
3. Southampton have only lost twice in the last 12 league games, dramatic turnaround considering they lost 8 of their first 10.
4. Everton have only lost once in their last 9 away trips
5. Everton have hit the woodwork 17 times this season, the most in the league.
Everton need to find their killer instinct if they want to challenge for 4th, the draws are killing Everton and it was summed up perfectly against Swansea where they could not hit the back of the net despite some golden chances. The trip to Southampton will not be easy, especially given their recent results, they have tightened their defence and now are a much harder unit to break. However, I am hoping the controversy surrounding the surprise sacking of Adkins can have a negative effect for the Saints and Everton can pounce on it. The 3pts are massive for Everton, with Spurs facing United and Chelsea up against Arsenal, points will be dropped, and Everton need to take full advantage of that fact. However, I am sitting on the fence and saying a 1-1 draw with Lambert and Jelavic netting for each side. COYB!!!! NEED THE 3PTS FOR 4TH PLACE, COME ON LADS!!!!!!!