Ronald Koeman and Everton travelled to the St. Mary’s in September of 2017 downtrodden and near the bottom of the table, a poor run of form and repeated thumpings had left the blues empty on confidence and desperate to see a good result. Everton lost that game 4-1, in what was ultimately the beginning of the end for Koeman and his time at Everton, but that story is much more a larger representation of the away form both against the Saints and overall where the records are the same, 2 wins from 10. Mid-table Everton come into Saturday with a chance to climb to 7th against a relegation threatened Southampton team who just pulled off a huge win away to Leicester, the question is which Everton team shows up?
Much like the season as a whole, Everton’s game against Bournemouth was a prime example of the Jeckel and Hyde performances we have seen regularly. A poor first half was followed by a second half that saw the Blues aggressive, attacking and ultimately victorious thanks to 2 well worked goals. To be successful this season, full 90 minute performances will be critical and even with a poor away form, the Saints present a great chance to come play free-flowing attacking football with a front line that has been starved for goals and a leaky defense. The Saints will also be missing key defenseman Mario Yoshida due to the ongoing Asian Cup, leaving big shoes to fill, as he is one of the first on the team sheet every week for Southampton. Shane long and Ryan Bertrand are also set to miss the Saturday fixture, leaving an even larger attacking hole for the Saints to fill.
For Marco Silva, the task will be finding the 11 that will come out with the energy needed and sustaining that for 90 minutes, a must for Everton as full 90 minute performances have been few and far between, causing a heap of points lost from winning positions. Lookman will be a key piece for the Blues creating in attack yet again as Richardson looks for consistent service in the final third, where Bernard and Lookman continue to improve as a tandem. Gueye Gomes and Sigurdsson in the midfield are a near certainty, and Zouma and Keane will 100% man the back line along with Digne and Coleman in the fullback slots.
Prediction: Everton’s poor run of form away this season and in the last 5 seasons has been nothing shy of poor, and inconsistent. Southampton has not been kind to the traveling Blues, but even coming off a big win at Leicester, this is a game that presents Everton a huge opportunity to take 3 points. Everton should look to play attacking football, and it could hurt them in defense, but against a Saints team down the table, 3 points is a must in a race towards 7th place and European football.
Southampton 1-2 Everton