Everton - Southampton: Pre-match analyis

Southampton face a tricky clash at Goodison Park on Saturday and will want to maintain their push for a Europa League place.

Everton - Southampton: Pre-match analyis
Southampton lost 3-0 in the reverse fixture at St Mary's (via The Mirror)

Ronald Koeman’s Southampton travel to Everton this Saturday with the hope of keeping their European dream alive.

Elsewhere, the Toffees have been the underachievers this season, causing manager Roberto Martinez to come under scrutiny.

Southampton saw off relegation-threatened Newcastle United in their last match in a 3-1 win whereas Everton played out a goalless draw with Crystal Palace midweek.

How they will set up

Koeman and Southampton have favoured two different formations this season with a 3-5-2 being the Dutch managers’ preferred choice against strong opposition.

Despite the Toffees’ troubles, Goodison Park is sure to provide a much sterner test than the one they faced last weekend.

Everton have stuck to their 4-2-3-1 for the majority of the season but with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Aaron Lennon, Ross Barkley and James McCarthy (suspended) all doubts, a shift in formation is possible.

Home and away

Martinez and his side have enjoyed fantastic away form this season and one of those impressive performances came against Southampton back in August in a 3-0 win at St Mary’s.

This inconsistency will be something Ronald Koeman will hope to exploit as the Merseysiders have picked up just eight points in their last ten home games.

The key battle

With an FA Cup semi-final coming up for Everton next week, Martinez will be expected to rest some of his star players, especially if they’ve picked up knocks.

A key battle to look out for will be between Saints striker Graziano Pelle, and Everton centre-half, John Stones.

The battle between John Stones and Graziano Pelle looks set to be crucial | Photo: Reuters
The battle between John Stones and Graziano Pelle looks set to be crucial | Photo: Reuters

With Phil Jagielka also a doubt for the home side, the youngster expected to start and the talented defender will have a job on his hands against the big Italian who scored his tenth league goal of the season last weekend.

The effect on the table

A Saints win would see them climb to sixth place and one point ahead of West Ham United, who face a tough trip to league leaders Leicester City.

Everton’s league campaign mediocrity looks set to continue however. The Blues are currently on 40 points and are safe from relegation but a push for Europe seems to have vanished.