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Everton have to respond to cup disappointment

The Southampton defeat was hard to stomach - and they need to get it out of their system quickly

Leicester City v Everton - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

This sums how I feel about Everton right now. The Southampton defeat still rankles and will continue to do so for several weeks yet. Yet I keep coming back for more!

As we discussed in more depth earlier this week, tossing the chance of a decent cup run away so easily is criminal for side that hasn’t won silverware for 23 years.

We’ve no Europe to worry about so the seven changes were baffling, and the miserable defeat means we now only have the league to concern ourselves with until January.

The result also destroys any momentum gained from last weekend’s win over Fulham, which belatedly seemed to have kick-started the season.

It means this weekend’s game against Leicester carries greater importance, as some sort of result is vital if we aren’t to stew over things during the international break and return in two weeks with a cloud still hanging over the club.

I suppose you could say the season has gone much the way we were told it would. The squad is made up of players signed by five different managers, so is it any surprise that Marco Silva has struggled to get the team playing consistently?

We all thrive on hope and excitement so it isn’t very palatable to effectively write off (another) season as a transitional year but that may well be the reality.

There has been so much chopping and changing at all levels of the club in recent years a settled period is vital if we are to all move forward, even if that means a few rocky results in the short-term.

The opposition

Leicester were many pundits’ pre-season tip rival Everton for a tilt at the top six this season. And while Everton have flattered to deceive, the Foxes are living up to their billing as candidates to be the ‘best-of-the-rest’.

Defeats to Liverpool and Man Utd suggest they will struggle to crack the elite like they did so spectacularly in 2016. But four wins from their other five games suggests they will be pushing for a European place come May.

That would represent some vindication for manager Claude Puel, who found himself under pressure at the end of last season after just six months in the job.

Puel guided Leicester to a ninth place finish but was among the bookies’ favourites to be sacked first this campaign. He even had to defend his position after just one game of the season, a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.

The Frenchman’s rather dour demeanour perhaps doesn’t help his cause, particularly in this era where managers are seen as entertainers as well as coaches. But his results speak for themselves and his side go into this game looking for a third successive league victory that could lift them into the top six.

Their star player so far has to be James Maddison, once linked with Everton, who joined from Norwich for £20m in the summer. The 21-year-old has three goals and two assists so far, with his performances earning him a first call-up to the senior England squad.

Team news

Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes are back in training but won’t be considered until after the international break. The same goes for Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman, with all four players pencilled in for a return against Crystal Palace on October 21st.

Bernard could be handed his first league start after impressing against Southampton in midweek. Ademola Lookman was also bright but is likely to return to the substitutes bench at the King Power Stadium.

Projected starting XI

Pickford, Digne, Zouma, Keane, Kenny, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Walcott, Tosun.

Final word

Everton have a poor record at Leicester, winning just one of their last eight meetings stretching back to 1998. Given the two team’s form I’m not confident of that record improving on Saturday.

The fresh impetuous generated by the Fulham win has been wiped out by the Southampton defeat so they have to start all over again at the King Power Stadium. I just hope that the fallout from Tuesday’s defeat has fuelled a desire to bounce back and we at least see evidence on that on Saturday.