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Southampton vs Everton: Five Thoughts

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Sure, there's supposed to be an abundance of cheer at this time of year. Really though, did Everton have to deliver all of Southampton's gifts in the same game?

Merry Christmas Southampton
Merry Christmas Southampton
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Oh dear... You might notice this turns into a bit of a Martinez bashing exercise; it's not meant to be but hopefully this echoes thoughts of a thousand Evertonians.

Roberto Martinez

"Saturday was a big disappointment" That's about as damning as it gets from our Spanish (former) magician. Make no mistake Martinez's honeymoon period is well and truly over. If the booing during a 3-1 win at home against QPR didn't make that clear enough, the reaction to the horrible performance and defeat to an understrength, under confident, out of form Southampton surely makes it obvious. Although his undilutable positivity is well know the blinkered view to some of the performances of individuals and the team is wearing a little thin. No substitutes until the game was well lost, a lack of attacking variation, and a terrible set of defensive errors throughout the season have unravelled the positive vibes from last season, the success (so far) of the Europa League campaign notwithstanding. What Martinez needs to do now is make some tough choices and show some balls. Otherwise he's in real danger of losing Goodison, something that is a difficult thing to do.

The defence

It's a bit of a misnomer for what Everton currently have "protecting" the goal. Last season Tim Howard and co conceded 37 goals in the whole campaign, this year it's 27 already with over half the games left to go. Add to that the 3 clean sheets so far, compared to 16 in total in 2013/14 and you see what a total shambles is happening. The fact that all three goals came from crosses won't be a surprise either, with Howard rooted to his line and Sylvain Distin woefully out of form it's seemed like Phil Jagielka has been heading things clear on his own. So what's the cause of the rot. Well, age possibly. Howard is 35, Distin 37, Jagielka 32, and even Baines is 30 now. Include the 33 year old Gareth Barry and 33 years of Antolin Alcaraz and you have an ageing defensive set-up. Luke Garbutt and John Stones, now he's fit, are youthful possibilities to freshen things up, but Martinez seems reluctant to fully trust them. Really concerning is goalkeeper, Joel Robles has been a disaster so far.

Fitness

When Martinez arrived he came with a reputation for fitness and being able to manage injuries. Whilst there have been many serious injuries that the fitness team couldn't do anything about it's been the way the return's to fitness have been dealt with and the number of subsequent injuries. Darron Gibson, Bryan Oviedo, Arouna Kone, ongoing niggles with Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry, Seamus Coleman and now James McCarthy, all seem to have been handled without care. The struggle for form of Lukaku and Coleman can be traced back to their injuries and pitch time whilst not fit. Part of the blame can go on the Europa League, but the majority of it must be placed on the fitness team. Rather than rushing players back, let's give them the time to recover, gain match fitness, and make an impact.

Frontline service

As with the defensive structure the front four misfired outstandingly against Southampton. Unlike the defence this wasn't down to individuals as much as it was their roles on the pitch. On Monday Ross Barkley and Steven Naismith were two of the outstanding players on the pitch, so the last thing you'd do it shift them out of position to shoehorn in some changes right? Wrong. The English youngster got pushed out to the left, where he's been uncomfortable before; and Naismith was hoofed onto the right where he looked awful for a season under David Moyes, and looked - unsurprisingly - awful. With Eto'o having a rare offday nothing came off for the attacking quartet, which made it all the more surprising that Kone and Aiden McGeady stayed rooted to the bench. With the talented Kieran Dowell and Conor McAleny showing their promise in Europe recently there are options there. Use them Roberto.

Positivity

Sorry, there just isn't any hiding in there after that performance. Maybe just that it can't get as bad as this again. Can it?