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Everton at Southampton: The Opposition View

We spoke to Saints writer Allen Gunn ahead of the Blues’ trip to St. Mary’s on Saturday

Southampton v Everton - Premier League
Everton lost 2-1 at Southampton last season
Photo by Tony McArdle - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images

Marco Silva’s job could be on the line when Everton travel to St Mary’s Stadium to face Southampton on Saturday.

The Blues have not won in their last 11 Premier League games on the South Coast, with their last victory in the region coming against the Saints in August 2015.

And Silva may need to end this hoodoo in order to remain Everton manager against a Saints side in the relegation zone, having not won a home league game since April, and having been destroyed 9-0 by Leicester City in their last match at St Mary’s.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men delivered a much-improved performance in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City, leading the match for almost an hour, but come in this clash one place and three points behind Everton, having conceded more goals (27) in their 11 games than any other team in the league.

Prior to Saturday’s game, we spoke to Allen Gunn, from SB Nation’s Southampton blog, St. Mary’s Musings:

RBM: Firstly, that 9-0 defeat to Leicester - just what went wrong?

Allen: Everything. What went right? Nothing.

Southampton FC v Leicester City - Premier League
Leicester’s 9-0 win over Southampton was the biggest away victory in Premier League history
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

RBM: Watching on Sky, Jamie Carragher was commentating on that game and said that Southampton have ‘got some really bad players’. Fair comment?

Allen: At least folks are finally getting on board with what Southampton fans already know, that we’ve got some really bad players at the club - where recruitment has definitely failed in the last three years.

The squad has zero depth and no option to bring on that will have more of an impact than the person they’d be replacing.

RBM: Southampton made only three permanent senior signings in the summer, to the cost of about £50 million. Was that enough investment?

Allen: Che Adams has been a flop to this point and until he provides goals he’s not doing anything. Sure, there’s more to life than scoring goals but we brought him in to score goals. At the minute it’s just Danny Ings, and his health is always a ticking time-bomb.

We definitely needed to invest in our back line, which is extremely fragile. It actually looked competent during the two defeats to Manchester City [Carabao Cup and Premier League], but in reality, that’s what they were, defeats.

Moussa Djenepo might be the bright summer signing we’ve made, but he got injured and has been out at the most inopportune time.

Feyenoord v Southampton: Pre-Season Friendly
Striker Che Adams was one of Saints’ biggest summer signings, but has yet to score
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

RBM: Considering that Leicester defeat, how encouraged were you by Southampton’s performance at Man City on Saturday?

Allen: Encouraged enough to realise that we need to play City every week because we actually look up for it. Our defence looked competent for once, but it remains to be seen if that will carry on.

RBM: Southampton have the worst defence in the league; with that in mind, was Hasenhuttl right to drop goalkeeper Angus Gunn for Alex McCarthy for the City game?

Allen: St Mary’s Musings mate Jake Hughes thinks Alex McCarthy is not without his own faults and that’s so true. He’s not been asked of much to do but when called upon he’s given up goals. I also don’t agree with the sentiments that the team looks fragile with Angus Gunn in goal - we’re fragile because we’ve not won in the Premier League since mid-September and that’s on everyone, not just the keeper.

Jan Bednarek has been half of the defender he was last year that helped keep us up, Maya Yoshida is known for lapses in his game that leads to conceding and Jannik Vestergaard struggles to command the box despite being a giant. That many problems is bound to produce poor results.

Southampton Training and Press Conference
Gunn (left) was replaced by McCarthy (right) for the City defeat
Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images

RBM: Do you still have faith in Hasenhuttl, and how much pressure is he/should he be under?

Allen: He shouldn’t be under loads, in my opinion. I’ve argued both sides on podcasts before, but we won’t get anyone better. I definitely wouldn’t want Alan Pardew or Sam Allardyce, that’s for sure. We tried that route with Mark Hughes and it didn’t work.

The board has really failed him and he’s been left with a poor squad and is doing what he can with what’s he’s got, which isn’t much.

RBM: How do you expect Southampton to set up on Saturday?

Allen: We’ve been playing with a back three and then wing-backs with two up front - Nathan Redmond and Ings. I expect Pierre-Emile Højbjerg will stay at left-back with Ryan Bertrand still suspended.

That setup works against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, where we know we won’t see loads of the ball, but I’d like to see us get after the game on Saturday.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Southampton FC - Premier League
Danny Ings, with five league goals this season, will likely lead the Southampton line
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

RBM: Which of Southampton’s players do you think could cause Everton the most problems?

Allen: Ings is the fairly obvious choice. He’s our only goal threat. The rest of the team is hit or miss, whether they can put their boots on the right foot, let alone find the target.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?

Allen: I’ll go for a standard 1-1 draw. It won’t help either side, but isn’t the end of the world. I just feel someone will leave a chance out there.

Our thanks to Allen for his time.