Toffees fans have had smiles as wide as the Mersey over the past few days after Everton’s flagging season was jolted back into life thanks to dominant victory against the Whites.
It felt like the moment a fractured club had begun to heal, with the players responding to the vociferous backing of the fans with their best performance of the season.
New manager bounce? Possibly. But there is no reason why those players cannot replicate that level of performance every week.
If they can then Everton could soon find themselves back in the safety of mid-table, which would make us all breathe a bit easier.
Southampton are having yet another quietly effective season under Ralph Hasenhuttl, going into Saturday’s meeting with the Toffees in 10th place.
The south coast club lost the influential Danny Ings over the summer but in loan signing Armando Broja they have a fine replacement.
The 20-year-old Albanian international, who has eight goals in 24 appearances, looks to have enormous potential and certainly should be on Everton’s radar if they are on the lookout for a new centre-forward in the summer.
They have lost just one of their last 10 games in all competitions, including taking a credible four points from away trips to Tottenham and Manchester United over the last week. Reward for sticking with Hasenhuttl despite a shaky start to the season.
Everton 3-1 Southampton, August 14 2021
The Rafa Benitez got off to a winning start on the opening day of the season back in August.
Adam Armstrong gave the Saints a first-half lead, but goals after the break from Richarlison, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin secured the points.
Demarai Gray again misses out as he has not yet recovered from a groin injury suffered at Newcastle, but Vitaly Mykolenko is fit to return after missing the last two games through illness.
Abdoulaye Doucoure is back in light training but is not yet ready to return to action. Ben Godfrey and Fabian Delph are a few more weeks away from a comeback.
Yerry Mina does not require surgery on a thigh injury but is likely to be out until April, while Tom Davies is unlikely to play again this season.
What they said
Everton manager Frank Lampard: “I have to make choices and we’ve been thinking about it all this week. “There’s an argument for going with the same again - we kind of felt similarly going into Newcastle [after the 4-1 FA Cup win over Brentford] and it didn’t quite work.
“So, it’s not a statement of fact [that we will be unchanged].
“All of the players have to feel through the week that they can find a way into the team, or if we have to change our approach for the opposition because, going from Leeds to Southampton, they two very good teams in lots of different ways.
“I’ll consider that as we go – and the good thing is we have got players who are playing well and we have got players who are hungry to get into the team
“That’s exactly the environment that you want.”
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl: “We are in a good mood. We have had some tough games in the past weeks and we have only lost once against Wolves.
“We have had tough games against Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United, and staying unbeaten was a massive step forward for us.
“Frank has implemented new energy in this team and they are pressing higher, much more active than I have seen them before.
“With a clear strategy, a clear plan and definitely a different behaviour now, and this is why everyone has been warned it will be a tough game for us.”
This will prove a tough early test for Lampard’s new-look side against a side in-form and full of confidence.
With Manchester City to come next week we could really do with taking a least a point from this game, otherwise that familiar sinking feeling could make a very unwelcome return.