Following a thoroughly satisfying victory over Manchester United, Roberto Martinez and his Everton side kept the pressure on Arsenal, and now they have the opportunity to go into the top four with a victory at St. Mary’s, even if it is for a few days.
With the fixture being the early 12:45pm (BST) kick-off tomorrow the Blues have the chance to reclaim their top four position and apply pressure on the Gunners for their Monday encounter at home to Newcastle.
From the hosts view though, it has been a very productive season for the Saints; with most forgetting it is only their second season back in the top flight. At one point during this campaign all the plaudits were being sent to the South Coast and it appeared they would be in a similar position to where Everton find themselves in currently at this stage of the season. Perhaps the praise for Mauricio Pochettino’s side was hyperbolic because of the amount of young home grown players in their squad but their potential success was short-lived...for now. Although the Saints have nothing to play for, other than a top half finish, this season shortly has to be deemed a success because Premier League survival must have been the initial target at the start of this season.
The Saints are still without Maya Yoshida and Jay Rodriguez with knee injuries, Gaston Ramirez with his ankle, Kelvin Davis with a back injury and now adding those occupying the treatment table is Morgan Schneiderlin who picked up a heavy knock to the quadriceps and will be out of tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors are without Sylvain Distin with a hamstring injury he picked up in the first half of last weekend’s fixture and may miss the rest of the season. Antolin Alcaraz is expected to deputise with skipper Phil Jagielka still not fit enough to be involved with the same problem as Distin. A player who is definitely out for the final three games of this season is Kevin Mirallas. The Belgian experienced a small tear in his groin in the final stages of the United game. In addition to the further individuals side-lined are Arouna Kone, Steven Pienaar and Lacina Traore. Even though Darron Gibson has returned to light training he is not ready to feature in the Everton squad. Finally, despite his remarkable Youtube video Bryan Oviedo is still out. With all those absentees there is a heavy involvement from the U21s in Everton’s squad for the trip.
Goalkeepers: Boruc, Cropper and Gazzaniga.
Defenders: Chambers, Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Lovren, Shaw and Targett.
Midfielders: Cork, S Davis, Lallana, Reed, Wanyama and Ward-Prowse.
Forwards: Do Prado, Gallagher and Lambert.
Goalkeepers: Howard and Robles
Defenders: Alcaraz, Baines, Browning, Coleman, Garbutt, Hibbert and Stones.
Midfielders: Barkley, Barry, Deulofeu, Gueye, McCarthy, McGeady, and Osman.
Forwards: Lukaku and Naismith.
The Saints have only lost one of the last 12 home games against Everton in the Premier League.
In the last eight league games, Everton haven’t lost to Southampton – winning four and drawing four.
Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge of Southampton was a 0-0 draw at home to Everton in January of last year.
In the two games since Jay Rodriguez’s knee injury the Saints have failed to score.
With 32 games, Luke Shaw has made the most appearances for a teenager in the league this season.
There is only one player that has had more assists for Southampton in one Premier League season than Rickie Lambert this campaign, who has 10 assists, and that is Matt Le Tissier with 11 assists in 1992/93 and 15 assists in 1994/95.
In two of their last three home league games, Southampton have not only won but scored four goals in each victory.
Leighton Baines has taken more penalties in Premier League history, out of the players to have a 100% penalty scoring record, with 13 after last week’s defeat of Man Utd.
Out of the last four league games, Everton have kept three clean sheets.
The Toffees have the chance to win a fourth away game on the spin in the league – something they haven’t done since December 1985.
In the last nine league games, Roberto Martinez’s side have won eight; only being beaten by Crystal Palace.
A win in this game is the definition of the word essential if the Blues are to finish in the final Champions League place. The Toffees’ main focus from now to the end of the season is to keep as much pressure on Arsenal as possible. Everton are only one point behind the Gunners, which means in the final three games Roberto Martinez’s side only have to better one of Arsenal’s results and then match the other two. With that in mind the only focus must be what we can control and win each game as it comes and not have Arsenal’s results in mind because even if fourth place is not achieved it will be disappointing but the season can still very much be regarded as a success, especially considering it being the first in the Martinez era and a fantastic platform on which to build.