|Everton 3 v 1 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 14th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Everton The Preview
Friday, 13th Aug 2021 07:45
Saints kick off the 2021/22 season at bogey ground Everton and unlike much of the second half of last season when we literally put out the last XI men standing, there is plenty of speculation about just what line up Ralph Hasenhuttl will put out.
The one good thing about starting the season at Everton is that whatever result we end up with it will at worst be what we usually get at Goodison and that is defeat, a draw is a rare treat and quite literally no one under the age of 30 can remember the last time we won there in the League back in 1997 when Kevin Davis stole the show with a wonder goal.
Indeed since our return to the top flight in 1978 we have only won one other League game at Goodison and that was back in 1992.
So a win is long overdue, yes ok we did manage a win in the League cup 3 years ago, but that was on penalties.
So it's a bit of a free hit for us and perhaps this season we will have our best chance in a long while. Everton have had issues this summer, gone is the £100 million plus spent on new signings each summer and it has been in the bargain basement for the Toffee's.
But they could be without there two main strikers, Dominic Calvert Lewin has been injured since returning from the Euros and missed the friendly at Old Trafford last weekend and is a doubt for the Saints game and Richarlison only arrived back from playing in the Olympics earlier this week and has not had a break in almost 12 months, playing around 60 games for club and country, the Olympics notching up the 15th game he has played for Brazil since the end of the Premier League season.
In the Saints camp despite losing Danny Ings, Ralph Hasenhuttl will feel that he has a squad at last and is near having the two players for each position he has spoken of.
So unlike the tail end of last season he has options and he has decisions to make, the first is in goal, will it be Fraser Forster or Alex McCarthy, if he goes with pre season form then it will be Forster who has impressed in his outings whereas McCarthy had a bit of a nightmare against Athletic Club Of Bilbao.
The back four will be missing Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand from last season, but the feeling is that they will not be a big loss, I would expect that to be a simple choice for Ralph, Walker Peters, Bednarek, Salisu and new signing Romain Peraud.
The midfield will be tougher, if Ralph stays with 4-4-2 then Ward Prowse and Oriol Romeu will anchor the centre, Stuart Armstrong will play right and then the left side could be one of Theo Walcott, Djenepo, Nathan Redmond or even Tino Livramento.
Up front it is another dilemma , does Ralph throw in Adam Armstrong for a starting debut or hold him back on the bench, I suspect it may be the latter and Che Adams could be paired with either Theo Walcott or Nathan Tella .
The good news is the bench will be packed with experience, potentially Redmond, Stephens, Djenepo & Diallo with several new signings in Adam Armstrong, Armando Brajo& Tino Livramento all in the mix, perhaps even Simeu or dare I say it Moi Elyounoussi.
So although the squad will not be as tight as Ralph would have hoped at the back, he will feel that he has a better squad than back in March when Ralph had 7 youngsters on the bench with only Alex McCarthy and Jack Stephens with any experience.
That game saw a narrow 1-0 defeat for Saints, but this time we should have not only a starting XI that can compete but a bench that can generally change things.
So we go to Goodison Park with more options than usual and getting off to a good start could do wonders for the confidence.
It will be tough, there is a mental block to get through when we play at Goodison Park, but truth is Everton themselves are in a bit of turmoil and there are questions about the commitment of some of their squad, can we finally get that first league win in 24 years.
Photo: Action Images
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When Saturday Comes #6 by wessex_exile
After over a month of absence, the U’s finally make a welcome return to the JobServe for a home league fixture. Sutton seem to have quickly got over their Covid-19/ injury crisis/ international call-up woes, fielding a team the following Tuesday that was strong enough to push Cardiff City hard in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Championship side. But enough of that, I haven’t seen the outcome of the EFL investigation, but I don’t doubt the decision has either already been or will be rubber-stamped. Gamesmanship – maybe, but I hope at least the EFL are now a bit more alert to the fact that some might think they can treat them like chumps when it suits their purpose? Still – it’s great to be back home isn’t it!
When Saturday Comes #5 by wessex_exile
“Well, I can tell u my son was stood nearer the back of the Holker Street end and although he couldn't see who was responsible, he was disgusted and was very clear in telling me that the 'N' word was used by someone stood directly behind the goal nearer the front. I'm sick of hearing this, no one but the player being abused heard anything so maybe he was mistaken crap. This shite still exists despite everything that the authorities try to do because unfortunately there are still racists in every, city, town, village and hamlet in this country. [SwearFilter] scum of the earth.”
When Saturday Comes #4 by wessex_exile
I start with an apology for the no-show last weekend, but for all the right reasons. My nephew and his fiancé finally managed to tie the knot on Friday, at the fifth time of asking (previous four attempts falling foul of covid restrictions unfortunately). It was a fantastic afternoon and evening over in Essex, but meant it just wasn’t possible to get a blog produced. A significant proportion of the wedding party were U’s supporters, including the groom, but any thought of live-streaming the Rochdale game at the evening celebration might have resulted in the fastest divorce on record, so we contented ourselves with surreptitious glances at the BBC Sports updates – and what an own goal it was! Different circumstances, but I was (painfully) reminded of Aidan and Kevin’s howler at Blackburn – golden rule, never, ever pass the ball directly towards your own goal.
When Saturday Comes #3 by wessex_exile
The goalless U’s have eventually got that monkey off their backs, with the Frank and Freddie show combining to win a somewhat dubious penalty, in the 5th minute of injury time, allowing Freddie to get his new goal account at the U’s off and running (all in all he now has 37 goals, five of them penalties). It was tight though, and on another day the goalkeeper would have got a hand to it, but they all count, whether it’s a 25 yard peach or one off the arse. Everyone has rightly said that without doubt Mansfield were the best side we’ve faced so far – I’ll go so far as to say they’ll probably be one of the best sides we face all season. Though it wasn’t comfortable viewing at the time, some of their passing and movement, particularly on the break, was breath-taking at times. But enough of the love-in, however good they were, the U’s stood up to them, kept them out for the most part, and eventually got the point we deserved.
When Saturday Comes #2 by wessex_exile
Two games into the season, and although still goalless, it has been a reasonably promising start for the U’s. A tough opening day fixture away at Carlisle, and in front of a bumper crowd which delayed kick-off by 15 minutes, the U’s were largely resolute in defence, whilst still creating enough chances to have won the game if our finishing had been sharper. To be fair though, were it not for prodigal son Shamal George making his return to Brunton Park, we could just have easily lost – a performance which rightly earned him the Man of the Match award. Midweek at Championship club Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup was an even more spirited performance, and one which really should have seen the U’s victorious, but if you don’t take your chances you will get punished, and we did in the 75th minute. Much has been said about the opposition being a second (third?) string side, and with players taking the field with squad numbers in the 50s, that can’t be disputed. But, when you’re facing a team that actually has squad numbers in the 50s, you realise just how big a club our opposition was.
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