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Everton 1 v 0 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Monday, 1st March 2021 Kick-off 20:00
Southampton At Everton The Preview
Monday, 1st Mar 2021 13:24

Saints travel to one of their bogey ground's in Goodison Park to take on an Everton side who although a little up and down this season are still looking to try and secure their first top four finish for 16 years.

After Everton's first win at Anfield in almost a quarter of a century it led to a feeling of euphoria in the blue half of Merseyside that this would be the year they recapture some old glories.

But the truth is that in the 6 Premier League fixtures prior to the win against Liverpool they had been in a poor run of form, they had won only once, drawn two more and lost three of that six match run.

Without that victory they would have been sat in 10th spot although they do of course have games in hand, they like most sides, Manchester City aside have not been able to put together consistent winning runs in anything like the numbers needed to truly pull above the rest of the pack.

That means that Everton remain one of 9 teams who are either in the top 4 or within 6 points of it.

But they will be seeking to change that against Saints tonight and although a win won't move them anywhere up the table, it will bring them level with Liverpool with a game in hand and only 2 points off West Ham in 4th.

Why aren't Saints in that position, there are many theories for that, but the only real truth is we have gone on this awful run because of our horrific injury list, one which hasn't improved with the loss of perhaps the most consistent player this season Oriol Romeu for the rest of the season.

1 solitary point in our last 8 games is awful, but not surprising given our lack of fit bodies, indeed if we had just averaged a point a game in this run, then we would be on 37 points and although a way off 4th, still in with a shout of the top 6.

So we travel to a ground we haven't won in the League at since November 1997 , over 23 years when Kevin Davies scored a wonder goal.

So if Everton can win at Anfield, definitely their bogey ground of the last quarter of a century, then we can do the same at ours.

We should have done so last summer, but came short when a defensive lapse of concentration allowed the Toffee's back into the game on the stroke of half time, but again left disappointed.

Could this be our year to win at Goodison in the league and break that hoodoo, God knows we could do with it, but the odds aren't good, but they aren't totally against us yet.

For instance the starting XI tonight is likely to include 8 of the starting line up 8 months ago, possibly 9 if Jack Stephens is recalled, the other two missing players being Kyle Walker Peters and Oriol Romeu.

The difference between this year and last year is that we are down to the bare bones !

Or is it ? a look at the bench saw Hojbjerg and Shane Long as the only experienced outfield players on the bench alongside the barely used Kevin Danso with the rest kids like Will Smallbone, Will Ferry Jake Vokins, even Michael Obafemi and finally a player who few Saints fans had heard of until recently Alex Jamkewitz.

So the squad for the visit to Goodison tonight isn't going to be much weaker than the one back last summer, indeed some might say that it is stronger defensively in that Jannik Vestergaard and Mohammed Salisu have emerged as quality players in the squad.

So we can go to Everton with the confidence that our starting XI can do as well as it did last year, but the problem is that the Everton squad on paper at least is stronger than the summer and that with our injury crisis we will lack of options off the bench as well as in the key positions vacated by KW and Oriol Romeu through injury.

But in injury has played a big part in our recent run of form, then another major contributing factor has been bad luck, the defeat at Leeds was harsh in that when oriol Romeu went off with 20 minutes to go we lost our best player on the night, it might not have affected the result, but we were still in with a chance and the loss of our holding midfielder saw us collapse in the final 10 minutes or so.

So Ralph Hasenhuttl has to pick his team and pick it well, if he goes with a back four I would perhaps suggest an option of Jack Stephens as a holding midfielder in place of Romeu, Stephens has been suggested for this role before and it is worth a try.

Another option in the centre would be Stuart Armstrong or perhaps controversially for some Saints fans Alex jankewitz.

If Ralph goes for the villain of Old Trafford then that would give him the option to use Stuart Armstrong to cover the right midfield spot and provide support for presumably Jan Bednarek at right back.

I would also consider using a back three with Armstrong and Bertrand as wing backs.

But truth is that we will only have 12 fit experienced players tonight, assuming that Minamino doesn't recover from his injury to be able to play a part.

But some of the youngsters are showing promise, Nathan Tella had a good game at Leeds and will feature at some point tonight, I'm still unconvinced about Dan N'Lundulu but he puts in a shift and the likes of Chauke, Watts and Ramsey can do a job.

Truthfully I'm not expecting too much in the way of points tonight, but what i want to see is fight, spirit and battle, if we can hold out against Chelsea then we can do the same against Everton.

But the season won't be defined by this result, what will matter is when we play the likes of Sheffield United, Fulham, Palace & West Brom, they are the games that we need to be back to our best and by then hopefully the wounded will be ready to return.

Two months ago the future looked bright, the reason we have dropped is merely injuries and bad luck, the squad was good enough to hit top earlier in the season, Ok it is not as big as we would like, but every side has suffered in that respect as well.

We could win with a bit of luck tonight, but when we have key players back we will start to win again and banish looking over our shoulders and be able to look forward again.

Form is temporary, this is a bad bad run, no one can deny that, but there are mitigating circumstances and when they have gone, the winning streak will return.

Photo: Action Images

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PaleRider added 14:15 - Mar 1
I'd be happy with 100% effort from the team and no mention of the referee! If we get some luck - even better!


felly1 added 14:22 - Mar 1
It hard to see anything other than defeat tonight.. I really hope I'm wrong but with no proper right back or regular defensive midfielder, Everton under Ancelotti will exploit these areas.

LordDZLucan added 14:43 - Mar 1
If only we had Matt Targett, Cedric Soares and Harrison Read available this evening. Letting those three go for a few sheckles has contributed to our current woes.

SaintNick added 15:26 - Mar 1
Lord Lucan, all three would have only have got in the team if players were injured, Bertrand is still better than Targett, KWP is a lot better than Cedric and Romeu, JWP & Romeu are all better than Read

Farlow added 15:31 - Mar 1
I agree with LordDZLucan,especially after watching Reeds MOM game
for Fulham yesterday.

allsaint54 added 15:32 - Mar 1
I don't mind who plays so long as it doesn't include Redmond

underweststand added 15:33 - Mar 1
A contract extension for Kayne Ramsay should give him some real encouragement.
Ralph is surely not going to leave him behind in So'ton. Everyone has to get a chance to show up, and with KWP still a couple of games away from returning ...what better time than now for Kayne to get some time in a game that, all but the most fervent fan already has us down to lose.

I agree with Pale Rider (above) if the team puts up a good showing, and we have no more VAR "incidents " going against us , I'd be satisfied win, lose or draw.
On paper... Everton has a bench capable of giving us a good game, so we can hope we see the best performance possible, and some goal chances converted properly for once.

LordDZLucan added 15:44 - Mar 1
Nick, players are injured at the moment which is why it would be useful to have those three players. Also, we wouldn't have to be worrying about Ryan Bertrand not signing a contract!

SaintPaulVW added 15:49 - Mar 1
Although I'm not hopeful, I have a slight suspicion that we might get something out of this game. We often do well unexpectedly. Several good players are due to turn the corner, making a sensible pick at right back and centre mid may mean that some players can concentrate on their own game and get an extra lift. A JWP pin point stunner could even settle it.

I completely accept that, this post may not age well....

COYR, in hope rather than expectation

sandywelsh added 16:59 - Mar 1
No No we dont want to see Stephens in midfield the bench is his best position. Its also about time Forster started in goal. I would also like to see Ramsay start in defence and Jankewitz in midfield with Adams and Ings up front.

Saintaxidriver added 16:59 - Mar 1
Agreed our problem has been a long list of injuries, some bad decisions by the officials and some plain old bad luck but the overiding issue is the lack of depth in our squad. Of the young players coming through as far as I can see only Tella has put in a half good performace required at this level, the others have either not looked up to speed or look like they are lacking in confidence. I am hoping we play five at the back and I would play Dnepro on the left. For all his headless chicken faults he has the powers of spiderman when people try and get past him. I would also stick with Adams up front as he always puts in a shift. So McCarthy Bertrand, Salisu, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Dnepro. In the middle JWP and Armstrong. Upfront Adams and Ings with Redmond floating.

Saintaxidriver added 17:01 - Mar 1
Dnepro on right not left

felly1 added 17:25 - Mar 1
Stephens Centre defensive mid and Djenpo at right full back for me

TimSaint added 17:44 - Mar 1
Richarlison, DCL, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Gomes and James Rodriguez all queuing up to exploit our weakness at Right Back.

TimSaint added 18:34 - Mar 1

Targett was never going to hang around waiting for Bert to retire and anyway, getting £16m for him was a far better than expected price.

Cedric - he announced early doors that he was leaving, so we could not have convinced him to stay regardless.

Reed - 3 years of loans at Norwich, Blackburn and Fulham suggested he was a fringe player at best with us, so we did well to get £8m for him.

We only really have a need for them now that we have so many injuries, otherwise Bert and KWP will always be picked in front of Targett and Cedric and JWP, Romeu and Diallo would also get picked in front of Reed.

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