It’s been an eventful week since Everton’s last match; a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup.
With a bit more luck, the Toffees potentially could have come away from Old Trafford with a draw and there were certainly positives to be taken from their performance.
But it is matters off the field rather than on it that the club’s supporters have directed their frustrations at this week, with a huge protest against the board planned for this weekend’s match against Southampton.
All this hangs over a crucial clash with a team at the foot of the league that will mark the halfway point of Everton’s campaign.
The Toffees have won just one of their last 11 matches and the pressure continues to mount on Frank Lampard, despite owner Farhad Moshiri’s public backing earlier this week.
While they have produced two solid performances in Manchester in the last two weeks, coming away with a draw against Man City and being on the receiving end of some bad luck against United, in between those games was disastrous 4-1 defeat to Brighton at Goodison.
Concerns over the team going forward s well as questions over their resilience in the face of adversity continue to rumble as a result.
Their desire and commitment to the last at Old Trafford last Friday is cause for optimism but they appear to still appear be lacking the firepower necessary to put teams away.
A big plus going into the Southampton match is Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s availability to start after the forward was rested in the cup, leaving Everton blunt in attack.
Another boost is Lampard’s confirmation that Alex Iwobi is in contention to start after the Nigerian looked to have suffered a serious injury against United, although it’s likely he won’t be risked straight from the off against the Saints.
It’s unclear which formation Lampard will deploy on Saturday, with a 5-3-2 proving rather effective against both City and United but perhaps seeming a bit too negative for a home tie against a fellow struggler.
One to watch – Demarai Gray
If Everton are to triumph over Nathan Jones’ side, they need Demarai Gray to be at the forefront of everything they do.
The winger has proved to be the team’s most dangerous weapon in recent weeks.
Playing alongside a centre-forward in the aforementioned 5-3-2 set-up looks to get the best out of the former Leicester City man, after he bagged a sublime goal at the Etihad and saw a well-taken assist against United ruled out for offside.
His pace and directness could cause the Southampton defence nightmares if utilised correctly.
One to watch – James Ward-Prowse
The Saints’ talisman is undoubtedly James Ward-Prowse.
The 28-year-old has played out his entire career at St. Mary’s and has three goals and two assists to his name this campaign.
Deployed in a more advanced role under Nathan Jones, the hard-working midfielder is a dead-ball specialist and will be looking to unlock the Everton defence and find centre-forward Sekou Mara, who scored his first goal for the club on Wednesday.
In typical misfortune for the Blues, Southampton seem to have discovered some form going into this match, winning their last two matches including knocking Man City out of the EFL Cup in midweek.
However, they have still only won of their last 13 matches in the league and will be facing a fired-up Everton team on Saturday.
Along with the protests against the board, a coach welcome has also been arranged for before the match and it promises to be a fierce atmosphere inside the ground.
If the Everton players can harness the fight and passion of the supporters, they may be on course for a vital three points.