Everton travel to St.Mary’s to face Southampton in the Saturday lunchtime kick off ready to apply the pressure on Arsenal for the coveted fourth spot. Both teams have been excellent in their own right this season and will want to finish the campaign on a good note with high hopes for next season.
After outplaying Man Utd at Goodison Park last week, Everton will be in joyous mood after bouncing back from a shock defeat at home to Crystal Palace the game before which ended a run of eight consecutive wins. The 2-0 win against the Red Devils leaves Roberto Martinez’s men just one point short of the Gunners with only three games to play. However, the Toffees have a tough trip of fixtures to end the season with a home game against title challengers Man City next in line followed by an away trip to Hull City on the last day of the season. With Arsenal playing on Monday night, Everton will look to put the points in the bag so that the onus is on Wenger’s men to produce a result.
Southampton have been comfortable in eighth for a while now after an impressive season under Mauricio Pochettino. They have managed to push through a number of young English talent has led to praise from all around the country. A great start to the season has helped them secure a top half finish in the table with the likes of Lallana, Rodriguez, Shaw and Lambert making huge impacts. However, the Saints are without a win in their last three games after defeats by Man City and Cardiff but managed to hold Aston Villa to a goalless draw last week.
In the previous meeting between the two sides earlier in the season, Everton were victorious at Goodison Park. Goals from Coleman and Lukaku secured a 2-1 win for the Toffees with Ramirez replying for Southampton.
The Saints are without key attacking players such as Rodriguez, who was ruled out for the rest of the season as well as the World Cup with knee ligament damage after scoring 15 goals for the club this campaign. Gaston Ramirez is also out of action with a foot injury while Yoshida and Davis are also missing for Southampton.
Kevin Mirallas has joined the list of injured players for Everton after suffering a groin injury in the win against Man Utd, in which he scored. Sylvain Distin was victim to a hamstring injury and has joined his central defensive partner Phil Jagielka on the sidelines. Pienaar is still not fit enough for a first team return following a knee injury and January signing Traore is still out with a hamstring problem. Oviedo, Kone and Gibson are all out with long term injuries.
- Southampton have only lost one of their last 12 home league matches against Everton (W6 D5).
- Southampton have failed to score in the two games Jay Rodriguez has missed since his knee injury.
- Everton have won eight of their last nine Barclays Premier League games, losing only to Crystal Palace.
- Southampton have scored four goals in two of their last three home games.
- Everton have not won four league away games in a row since December 1985.
- Roberto Martinez’s side have kept three clean sheets in their last four Premier League games.
Southampton: Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw has been one of the many bright English talents that have played brilliantly for Southampton this season. The 18 year old has been in exceptional form throughout the whole season and has left Roy Hodgson much to ponder over whether to select Shaw for England’s World Cup squad this summer. The full back is known not just for his defending but also for his ability to burst past players on the wing and provide service for the attackers which he has done well this season with a 49 out of his attempted 89 dribbles being successful as well as 18% of 124 crosses he has made being accurate. Most attacking full back are usually not very solid in terms of defending but Shaw has been amazing at both attacking and defending this season with 83% out of his 66 attempted tackles being successful and he has shown that he can distribute the ball very well in defence with 86% out of 510 defensive zone passes he has attempted being accurate.
Everton: Seamus Coleman
Seamus Coleman has no doubt been the best right in the Premier league this season as he has not only been solid in defence, helping Everton to 14 clean sheets this season, but also for his adventurous role as all back helping create and score goals for Everton with six goals in the Premier League which is the second highest amount from a defender this season. Defensively Seam
us Coleman has been great all season and this is proven as 81% out of 67 tackles he has attempted this season have been successful. For a full back he has shown that he is technically very good on the ball with 60 out of his 98 attempted dribbles being accurate, in addition to that he has also shown that he is a very accurate passer of ball with 88% of 1247 open play passes he has managed being accurate. This game will see an interesting battle between the two full in form backs which could help decide the outcome of the match.
I think with Southampton being at home they have the slight edge going into this one. Having lost to Cardiff in their last home game, I don’t imagine lightning striking twice. Everton are without their first choice centre backs which will be a big miss for them and I think Southampton can expose this.