The lesser said about the abomination on Tuesday night at Elland Road the better. Instead, the Everton boys should be licking their lips in anticipation of the upcoming part of the schedule - the next four Premier League games they play are against sides that currently stand in the bottom five of the table, including Southampton, Wigan Athletic, Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool. It starts with the first daytime game at Goodison Park this season tomorrow against the Saints.
Southampton under Nigel Adkins have been showing signs of improvement in their last two games, with a 4-1 comeback win against Aston Villa followed up by a 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup midweek.The Saints are currently in sixteenth place, with just that one win. For his part, manager David Moyes will have to focus on forgetting about the Leeds United fiasco and getting his boys ready to play on Saturday.
Everton have not found chances hard to come by this season, while Southampton are finally recovering from a nightmarish return to the top tier with four straight losses. This should be an entertaining, free-flowing game and goals should be aplenty in this fixture.
Team News -
Nikica Jelavic made a return to the team midweek and showed no ill effects from his layoff, while Tony Hibbert is expected to return meaning the only player still missing time is midfielder Darron Gibson. Moyes could keep his opponents guessing by retaining the Phil Neville - Leon Osman midfield and Marouane Fellaini in his newly-favored advanced attacking position.
New signing goalie Artur Boruc should be in the squad but will likely not play. Everton fans will remember that Moyes had attempted to snap up the former Polish international keeper before the Saints grabbed him. Midfielder Jack Cork was injured during the midweek game and could be missing for an extended period of time. Forward Tadanari Lee is also out with an elbow injury while fellow striker Emmanuel Mayuka and defender Luke Shaw will be facing late fitness tests.
Keys To The Game -
David Moyes will be ordering up more of the same from last Saturday's game at Swansea. Expect Everton to totally dominate the possession and come out all guns blazing for the first quarter of an hour or so. Fellaini has not been great in the holding midfielder role, and has had his best games in royal blue when doing a Tim Cahill cameo, pressing the defenders and getting his head (and chest) to crosses. He has also played better when drifting to the left to form the triangles with Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar. Jelavic and Kevin Mirallas have also shown some chemistry together and this could be something to watch for.
For the Saints, Nigel Adkins will be looking for his team to be cohesive and score first. The Toffees conceded an early goal against Leeds midweek and never gained a foothold in the game after that. In fact, that was the first goal Everton have conceded in the first half of a game this season. After seven years away from the Premiership, the Saints will be glad to get away from Goodison with even one point. Boyhood Liverpool fan and last year's Championship Player-of-the-Year Rickie Lambert is the sole striker and poses a unique threat upfront, and has the size and accuracy to get behind Sylvain Distin and cause goalie Tim Howard problems.
Match Facts -
- Everton have lost only one of their last fourteen Premier League games, with eight wins among them.
- Moyes' side have the most shots of any team in the league so far, with 102 in their five games.
- The Toffees last lost a game to Southampton at Goodison in 1997, a streak of seven matches.
- Southampton have conceded the most shots (30) and most goals (15) in the Premier League.
- The Saints have given up ten goals this year in the last fifteen minutes of each half.