On December 20th, Everton travel down south to St Mary’s Stadium to take on Southampton. With both teams wanting to compete for the European spots at the end of the season, this could prove a vital match for the two sides. After a dream start to the campaign, Southampton are stuck in a terrible run. The Saints have lost their last five matches, including going out of the Capital One Cup to League 1 Sheffield United in midweek. Everton have had a stop start season thus far. Roberto Martinez’s men have been unable to put together a long run of good results. This has left Everton down in 10th place. Both teams could use these three points to get their league campaigns back on track for the Christmas period and the rest of the season.
Southampton have been having their squad depth tested recently and will be missing some key players this weekend. The Saints will be without the midfield duo of Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin who will both miss out due to yellow card accumulation. Floran Gardos will also be suspended after he was sent off late on vs Sheffield United. Ronald Koeman will also be without Jake Hesketh, Jack Cork, Dusan Tadic, Jay Rodriguez, and Sam Gallagher who will all be missing out through injury.
While he will be missing some players, Roberto Martinez could receive a boost to his squad. Irish duo James McCarthy and Darron Gibson will both have late fitness tests to see if they will in fact be fit to go against the Saints. Everton will be without Leon Osman, Kevin Mirallas and Christian Atsu all through injury.
- This will be the 75th time the two teams have met all time.
- In the first 74 meetings, Everton won 37, Southampton have won 21 and the two teams have drawn 16.
- Southampton won the most recent meeting between the two, but Everton had gone unbeaten in the previous eight meetings.
- In the last 23 matches between the two teams there have only been two 0-0 draws.
- Southampton have the joint best cin the Premier League conceding only 13 goals in 16 matches.
- Everton on the other hand have the joint third worst defensive record in the league and the joint worst defensive record outside of the relegation zone.
Southampton- Graziano Pelle
Southampton have been misfiring in front of net during their five game losing streak with only one goal in those five. The only goal in those five was scored by their Italian summer signing, Graziano Pelle. The Italian is the team’s top scorer, but after a red hot start to the season, the former Feyenoord striker has cooled down with only one goal in his last seven for the Saints. With Southampton missing their secind and third highest goalscorers in Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama, Pelle will have to step up and return to the form he showed earlier in the season. With the team struggling for goals in this bad run of form, Ronald Koeman needs his out and out goalscorer to start scoring goals again or else Saints could continue their slide down the table.
Everton- Steven Naismith
After signing a new three year deal at Everton earlier this week, Steven Naismith will be the key man for Everton in their match with Southampton. The Scotsman’s versatility makes him fit well in Roberto Martinez’s system. He usually gets in the number 10 hole, but he can switch with the wingers or the striker making him hard to track. After his goal on Monday, Naismith signed his new three year contract. The former Rangers man will hope to continue his good week with a good performance at St Mary’s.
Southampton are in a terrible run of form at the moment and are missing two of their most important players in Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin. This makes ending the bad run of form a challenge for the Saints. Everton are coming off of a pretty easy win, but Southampton will be a tougher test than lowly QPR. I’m going to go with an Everton win for this one continuing Southampton’s poor run.
Prediction: 2-1 Everton