Everton vs Southampton preview: How to watch, team news, kick-off time, predicted lineups and ones to watch
Stuart Armstrong of Southampton in action during the Premier League match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park on March 1, 2021 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Rafa Benitez will begin his reign as Everton manager when his side faces Southampton at Goodison Park in the Premier League.

The Toffees ended their pre-season schedule with a disappointing 4-0 defeat to Manchester United but will gain encouragement from their four games that lead up to their loss at Old Trafford.

Everton avoided an upset with training ground victories against Accrington Stanley and Blackburn Rovers before a trip to Orlando saw them put away both Millonarios and Pumas UNAM.

A similar pattern followed for the Saints. Unbeaten until the last game before the start of the Premier League season, a draw against Fulham and wins against Swansea, Cardiff City, and Levante UD were obtained before defeat against Athletic Club at St Mary's Stadium.

The home side are currently unbeaten in their last nine opening games of the season, winning three and drawing six, with their last loss coming back in 2011 against Queens Park Rangers.

As for Southampton, they have won just once on the first day of the season since returning to the topflight back in 2012, with their sole victory coming against West Bromwich Albion at the start of the 2013/14 campaign.

  • Team news

After winning Olympic gold with Brazil, Richarlison is in contention for a place in the Everton squad after returning to training on Wednesday.

Benitez also confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Dominic Calvert-Lewin will also be available for their Premier League opener.

Columbian midfielder James Rodriguez is unavailable for the match on Saturday due to being in isolation, with the manager also confirming that four other players within the squad are in the same situation. 

As for Southampton, Ralph Hasenhuttl confirmed that captain James Ward-Prowse will play against Everton. The England international, who has not missed a minute of league action for the Saints in the past two seasons, was a doubt after picking up an injury in Southampton’s opening pre-season game against Fulham.

Signing this week, both Adam Armstrong and Armando Broja could make their debuts for their new club, with the departure of Danny Ings meaning that they will tussle 22-year-old Nathan Tella for a starting spot alongside Che Adams.

After Ryan Bertrand left Southampton at the expiration of his contract, Romain Perraud is expected to start, with the Frenchman the only senior left-back at the club.

Will Smallbone is the only absentee from the side after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury away at Leicester back in January.

  • Predicted lineups

Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Godfrey, Keane, Digne; Allan, Doucoure; Townsend, Iwobi, Gray; Calvert-Lewin

Southampton: Forster; Perraud, Salisu, Bednarek, Walker-Peters; Ward-Prowse, Romeu; Armstrong, Djenepo; Armstrong, Adams

  • Ones to watch

Everton: Richarlison

Despite only returning to Everton training this week, Richarlison will still be the one to watch for the Toffees.

After an indifferent 2020/21 campaign, where the 24-year-old registered seven league goals (his lowest tally in a campaign for Everton) and three assists, the former Watford man has seemingly put last terms disappointment behind him.

After finishing as a runner-up in the Copa America, the Brazilian went one better in the Olympics. As well as collecting gold, an impressive hat-trick against Germany helped him on his way to the top goalscorer accolade and is heading into the upcoming season in blistering form.

Whether he starts or comes off the bench on Saturday, history suggests that the forward will find his way onto the scoresheet. Since joining in 2018, Richarlison has found the back of the net against the Saints on all three of Everton’s league matches at Goodison Park, with his side winning on two occasions, and drawing once.

Southampton: Che Adams

After making just 12 starts in his debut campaign for Southampton, Adams’ enjoyed a more memorable campaign on the pitch last season, starting 30 of the possible 38, playing a part in 36 matches in total.

In Ralph Hasenhuttl’s two striker system, the 25-year-old spent his first two years at the club in the shadow of Ings, who registered 34 goals in 67 Premier League games.

In one less game over the same period, Adams scored just 13 but now has the opportunity to be the main man of the south coast. With Ings departing his boyhood club just over one week ago, the Saints acted quickly to strengthen their attacking units, bringing in both Broja and Armstrong to their striking arsenal.

Likely to be matched with the latter of the two signings or Tella, the Scotland international has a key role to play if the Saints are to get their first league win at Goodison Park since 1997.

Having registered seven assists across the previous two seasons, his ability to either knock the ball on with his head or thread the ball behind to find his strike partner will be key. 

As well as this, the former Birmingham City man will need to find a clinical edge. Often criticised for his finishing in front of goal, the presence of Broja in the squad should give the striker a level of competition, with the Southampton ranks prior to the Albanians signature lacking another forward of Adams’ stature.

  • Previous meeting

The last time the two sides met, it was Everton who edged out victory, with a goal from Richarlison enough to give the home side all three points.

Rounding Fraser Forster for a simple finish, his goal put the Toffees level on points with their Merseyside rivals, and just two points behind fourth-placed West Ham with 13 games to play.

As for Southampton, the loss was their fifth on the bounce away from home, seven points above the relegation zone.

  • What the managers have said

Talking to the media, new Everton boss Benitez was not drawn into revealing his expectations for the upcoming season, suggesting the clash against Southampton is their main focus.

"The main thing for me is one game at a time, so Southampton is the target," said the 61-year-old. "If we get three points, we will be closer to our target. We have to be realistic & concentrate on the next challenge, to get three points against Southampton."

The Spaniard also pinpointed Everton's home form as a factor for success this season, suggesting that this is their primary aim.

He said: "The main thing for us is to be sure we're strong at home. They [the fans] can be a major part of our success."

As for Southampton, Hasenhuttl reassured the Southampton faithful that captain James Ward-Prowse would not be following Bertrand, Ings, and Vestergaard out of the club this transfer window, suggesting that his long-term future is with his boyhood club.

“Prowsey (James Ward-Prowse) is a guy who everybody wants to have, but I don't see a scenario for him not to be with us for the next few years,” said the Austrian. “He knows he is the captain here; he knows how important he is for us, and he feels good here, and we feel good with him.”

Such departures do not just impact the quality of the Saints starting team, with the three named departures playing at least 29 times last season, but also a level of experience. However, this is not something that concerns Hasenhuttl, with the 54-year-old suggesting this should not be an issue.

He insisted: “When the younger lads have quality, they are hungry. We have enough experience in the team, but it is more important that our players work hard and put everything on the pitch that we need to do.”

  • How to listen 

With the match taking place at 15:00 BST on Saturday 14 August, this match will not be available to watch for viewers within the United Kingdom. However, live commentary will be available on talkSPORT 2.