Everton return to action against Southampton looking for a response after the timid defeat to Tottenham on Monday.
On reflection, after the anger had subsided, most Blues agreed that the defeat told us nothing knew. The weaknesses in the side, namely a gaping hole in central midfield, have been known for some time so for Carlo Ancelotti to get as many points as he had is an achievement in itself.
The main frustration seemed to stem from the fact we have witnessed such performances away at the ‘big six’ so many times before. Even when Ancelotti gets the side how he wants it, a mentality change is desperately needed when we go to such stadiums. Gary Neville’s frustration and desire to ‘give the players a shake’ was echoed by Evertonians watching everywhere.
But, for now, he has to muddle on with what he has, with Monday’s defeat meaning they cannot really afford to lose another game if they are to have a chance of qualifying for Europe.
Southampton’s progress this season is a lesson to football club boards everywhere about staying patient and loyal to their manager. When the Saints were hammered 9-0 by Leicester earlier this season you cold have forgiven the club’s hierarchy for panicking and sacking manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
When they lost to Everton in December to stay second-bottom they still stood by him, and have been rewarded with a fine end to the season and signs a long-term project is starting to take shape.
The Saints have flown out of the blocks since the restart, winning three out of four, including an immense rearguard effort against Manchester City last weekend. They currently sit 13th and can overtake Everton with a win at Goodison.
Spearheading their attack is former Liverpool striker Danny Ings, who is fourth on the Premier League top scorers charts with 18 goals so far.
What is curious about their season so far is the disparity between their home and away records. The south coast side have collected just 17 points at home, only Norwich have fewer, but have won 26 points on the road, the fifth best record in the league. Suggesting Thursday’s clash will be a lot tougher than some might think.
Southampton 1-2 Everton - November 9, 2019
Everton eased the pressure on Marco Silva with a battling victory at soggy St Mary’s in December. Tom Davies headed the Toffees into an early lead before Danny Ings levelled shortly after the break. Richarlison then sealed the points with a fine first-time finish from Djbril Sidibe’s cross with 15 minutes left.
Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Mason Holgate will miss out after he was forced off during the first half at Tottenham. Alex Iwobi is also doubtful after he went off at half-time with a hamstring injury.
Fabian Delph is still sidelined but Theo Walcott is available for the first time since the restart after abdominal surgery.
Man City (H) Won 1-0
Watford (A) Won 3-1
Arsenal (H) lost 2-0
Norwich (A) Won 3-0
Newcastle (H) Lost 1-0
Tottenham (A) Lost 1-0
Leicester (H) Won 2-1
Norwich (A) Won 1-0
Liverpool (H) Drew 0-0
Man Utd (H) Drew 1-1
I think a lot of people have underestimated this game, given it is sandwiched between tough trips to Tottenham and Wolves. Southampton’s away record is one of the best in the league and they arrive full of confidence after being Manchester City. Everton, though, need to show a response after their limp showing in north London on Monday, so I’m cautiously hopeful of a narrow victory.