Everton vs Saints: Preview

By SFC Media time Sat 28 Dec Men's First team

Saints round off the calendar year with a trip to Goodison Park for a 1.30pm kick-off on Sunday afternoon.

The team will take confidence from a 3-0 win in Cardiff on Thursday where strikers Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert were on the goal trail in a convincing performance from Saints, who ended a six-game run without a victory.

The defensive showing will have equally pleased manager Mauricio Pochettino, as he oversaw a clean sheet for the first time in nine games with another changed line up at the back as Maya Yoshida and José Fonte formed a strong pairing in the middle.

The only disappointment for Saints was the fifth booking of the season picked up by Morgan Schneiderlin, who missed the suspension cut-off by two games and will therefore sit out this weekend’s match on Merseyside.

With the hosting of Chelsea on New Year’s Day following up quickly on the back of Sunday’s game, Pochettino will hope to have a few more options within his squad as the treatment room begins to clear.

The second away trip inside four days sees one of the toughest assignments on paper for the team, though, as they prepare to take on an Everton side that boasts the best defensive record in the division and have lost only once at home all season.

That defeat came as recently as Boxing Day when they were beaten 1-0 by bottom-of-the-table Sunderland. There was a further blow for Roberto Martinez’s men as goalkeeper Tim Howard was sent off in that game and will miss Sunday’s match. 

The Toffees’ only other loss to-date in the league was a 3-1 reverse at Manchester City. The Sunderland game aside, Goodison Park has been something of a fortress, with Chelsea and Liverpool amongst the teams who have been unable to take three points from the blue half of Merseyside.

An impressive run of results in December which has included wins over Manchester United, Fulham and Swansea has left Everton in fifth place going into this weekend, and five points away from leaders Arsenal.

Within the current squads the links between the two clubs include Danny Fox who was on the books of the Merseysiders as a youngster, whilst Adam Lallana is a boyhood fan of the Blues.

Team News

Morgan Schneiderlin is suspended for one game after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the win at Cardiff.

Dejan Lovren missed the Boxing Day game with illness and will hope to be back to full health by Sunday. Kelvin Davis was back on the bench for that win in South Wales after recovering from a gluteal injury.

Nathaniel Clyne and Dani Osvaldo are closing in on returns, but Guly, Artur Boruc and Victor Wanyama remain on the road to recovery.

Everton will be without goalkeeper Tim Howard and midfielder Gareth Barry, with the Toffees’ pair both absent due to suspensions.

Forward Kevin Mirallas was substituted at half-time during the contest having felt unwell and it remains to be seen whether or not he or Toffees full-back Leighton Baines, who has been sidelined by a broken toe but is nearing readiness for a comeback, will feature.

Pre-match quotes

Mauricio Pochettino:

“Even under David Moyes they were a tough side who were always fighting for the first seven or eight positions. Now they have a great manager in Roberto Martinez and they have made some fantastic signings so I am well aware that we will be facing a very tough side.

“I know him (Roberto Martinez) from a long time ago and he has been in England a long time now. He deserves everything that he has been getting recently because he has fully earned it.”

Roberto Martinez:

“It would be a mistake for us to talk about the end of the season in December. All we want to do is fulfil our potential, I still don't think we have fulfilled our maximum and we will focus on important games coming up in a short period of time.

“You need to get as many points as you can until April. Then you have nine or 10 games left and then it's realistic to speak about what sort of aims you can fight for.

“We've only had one defeat in 17 games, we got an important win versus Chelsea, we beat Man Utd, we drew against Arsenal and lost against Manchester City so it's an open competition, but it's pointless to look at the table.”

Previous Meetings

Last season Saints were defeated 3-1 at Goodison Park. Gastón Ramírez opened the scoring on 10 minutes, but the Blues hit back with goals from Nikica Jelavic and Leon Osman to take all three points.

It was a goalless draw in the reverse fixture at St Mary’s in what was Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge of Southampton.

This was a regular league fixture in the top flight until 2005 though Saints’ last win on home soil against the Toffees came in 2002 when a Marian Pahars penalty proved the difference at St Mary’s.

Since then Saints have been unbeaten against the Blues at home, securing successive draws in 2004 and 2005.

Sunday's game is the 89th all-time meeting between the two teams. Everton have the upper hand with 43 victories to Saints’ 25. A further 20 games have ended all square.

Match Information

Mark Clattenburg will referee Sunday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr S Beck and Mr S Child. J Adcock is the fourth official.

Online Coverage

As with every First Team game, we'll be providing minute-by-minute coverage throughout the day on our official Twitter feed plus goal updates on our official Facebook page.

You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.

Young defender Luke Shaw spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch that interview in full on our video channel.

After the match there will be plenty more content on saintsfc.co.uk and Saints Player, so stay tuned!

And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in a future edition of our Matchday Magazine.

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