On the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season, Everton welcome relegation-threatened Southampton to Goodison Park.
The Blues, who are in fine form as of late after picking up back to back wins, will look to send their fans home happy in the final home game of the season after a turbulent campaign but it won’t be an easy task.
Southampton looked resigned to their fate only a few weeks ago but since the introduction of Mark Hughes as manager, they’ve given themselves a chance of holding on to their Premier League status.
However, Hughes’ side will have to combat the Saints’ dreadful recent history at Goodison Park.
Everton are unbeaten in the last 12 encounters on Merseyside between the two sides – winning nine and drawing the other three.
The Saints have not won at Goodison Park since November 1997.
When the sides met earlier this season, it was easily one of Everton’s darkest days of the whole campaign.
David Unsworth, in one of his games as interim boss, saw his side beaten 4-1 at Saint Mary’s as Mauricio Pellegrino’s Saints picked up their first win in four games.
Unsworth’s side, coming off a Europa League mauling at home to Atalanta, were dismally soft in their trip to the south coast.
A Charlie Austin brace shortly after half-time more or less settled proceedings after Gyfli Sigurdsson spectacularly drew the Blues level after they had gone behind early following a Dusan Tadic opener.
Midfielder Steven Davis added a fourth with four minutes left in the game, stabbing home from outside the Everton 18-yard box.
A look at: Southampton
A difficult season on the south coast has seen the Saints, usually reasonably comfortable in the table, battling for survival.
Since Hughes took over for Pellegrino, there has been a renewed sense of hope of survival with the club now sitting 18th, only one point behind Swansea City.
With three games to go, it’s all to play for at the bottom of the table with plenty of sides still in trouble.
The battling victory over AFC Bournemouth last weekend should only lift Hughes' side but it won’t be plain sailing for the Saints in their bid for top-flight survival.
They have to travel to South Wales on Tuesday night to play the Swans before hosting Premier League champions Manchester City on the final day of the campaign.
Outside of their long-term injury list, the Blues have a decently clean bill of health.
They were, however, dealt a blow earlier this week after it was confirmed that Dominic Calvert-Lewin would miss the rest of the campaign with a back fracture injury.
The forward will also miss the Toulon Tournament in May with England’s Under-21’s squad but will be back in time for pre-season with Everton.
Mason Holgate has recovered from an ankle injury but won’t be risked against the Saints whilst Gylfi Sigurdsson is still battling in his bid to be fit for the World Cup with Iceland.
Mark Hughes has a strong Saints squad to pick from with Charlie Austin now back fully fit.
Steven Davis, who is nursing an Achilles injury, is expected to miss the game in a bid to be fit for Southampton’s vital last two games of the season next week against Swansea and Manchester City.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Keane, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Rooney, Vlasic, Walcott, Tosun.
Southampton: McCarthy, Cedric, Bertrand, Hoedt, Yoshida, Bednarek, Romeu, Lemina, Tadic, Redmond, Austin.
Match Day Stats
Everton have won just one of the last 4 meetings with the Saints – 1 win, 1 draw, 2 losses
The Blues are unbeaten in their last 2 final home games of the season, both without conceding a goal.
Mark Hughes has only lost once to Sam Allardyce in their last seven meetings as managers.