Everton - Southampton Preview: Toffees need a much needed boost ahead of FA Cup semi-final

The Blues will have one eye on the Merseyside derby on Wednesday night and the FA Cup semi-final next Saturday, but before that, they take on Ronald Koeman's side, who are aiming to push closer to a European spot.

Everton - Southampton Preview: Toffees need a much needed boost ahead of FA Cup semi-final
Everton take on Southampton at Goodison Park on Saturday 16 April at 15:00 (BST). (Image: VAVEL)

Everton will be hoping for a much needed boost ahead of a defining week for the Toffees and Roberto Martinez after a five-game winless run.

The Blues will have one eye on the Merseyside derby on Wednesday night and the FA Cup semi-final next Saturday, but before that, they take on a Southampton side, who are aiming to push closer to a European spot.

Head-to-head

Everton are looking for a third consecutive Premier League win over Southampton and the Saints have not enjoyed visiting Goodison Park in the past. The visitors have not won in any of their last 10 Premier League visits.

The Toffees produced one of their best performances of the season in the reverse fixture at the St. Mary's Stadium last September. Two goals from Romelu Lukaku and one from Ross Barkley earned Roberto Martinez's side a 3-0 win and the Everton boss will be hoping for a repeat performance.

The start of a critical week for Roberto Martinez and Everton

It has been a largely frustrating season for Everton and the team's regression and underachievement in the Premier League has led to growing criticism and pressure towards Roberto Martinez. The Toffees are 12th in the table following a run of three wins in 14 league games and the Everton supporters made their feelings clear during their side's 1-1 draw at Watford last weekend.

There is no doubting that this is now a crucial period for Everton and Roberto Martinez and this is a defining week in their season. The Merseyside derby is the first fixture supporters look for when the fixtures are announced in the summer and there is added pressure on Everton to claim the bragging rights on Wednesday when the Toffees travel the short distance across Stanley Park to Anfield.

The Toffees then face their biggest game of their season and arguably of Martinez's Everton tenure just three days later when they take on Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. The competition could prove to be a saving grace for Martinez as the reality is it would be unlikely that Everton win a major trophy and Martinez loses his job.

Everton supporters displayed their frustration and anger at Vicarage Road. | Photo: Getty Images
Everton supporters displayed their frustration and anger at Vicarage Road. | Photo: Getty Images

Toffees need a much needed boost against Southampton

The visit of Southampton to Goodison Park could provide a much needed boost for the Toffees after a run of three wins in 14 league games and a winless streak that was extended to five games after a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace in midweek. However, Everton have struggled at home this season, collecting just 16 points at Goodison Park. They have won just one of their last eight home matches in the Premier League, losing the last three.

Roberto Martinez has not been helped by seven first-team players possibly being unavailable for Saturday's encounter because of injuries and suspensions. And with Martinez having one eye on the Merseyside derby and FA Cup semi-final, the Everton boss could use the depth of his squad to ensure his players stay fresh ahead of a critical week and the final weeks of the season. 

The opposition

Southampton travel to Goodison Park with hopes of securing European football next season. The Saints are currently seventh in the Premier League table, just three points behind fifth-placed Manchester United.

Ronald Koeman's side have turned their fortunes around after a shaky start and a festive period which featured eight defeats in 10 games. Southampton have only suffered defeat once in their last five league games and that was a 1-0 loss to leaders Leicester City. The Saints earned wins over Stoke City, Liverpool and more recently Newcastle United.

Southampton have the joint-third best home record this season, but the Saints' away record is less impressive. Koeman's side will travel to Goodison Park having won just five of their 16 league games on the road, losing six and drawing five.

Strikers Shane Long and Graziano Pelle are both in excellent form. Long has now equalled his best goal tally in a Premier League season (eight), while Pelle has scored four goals and assisted three more in his last four games.

Southampton striker Graziano Pelle celebrates after scoring against Newcastle at St Mary's Stadium. | Photo: Getty Images
Southampton striker Graziano Pelle celebrates after scoring against Newcastle at St Mary's Stadium. | Photo: Getty Images

Team news

Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, Leighton Baines and Aaron Lennon all face late fitness tests ahead of the Southampton game. Everton are already without Phil Jagielka and Tom Cleverley through injuries sustained at Watford last weekend, while James McCarthy misses out because of suspension.

Southampton's Charlie Austin misses out with a knee injury suffered in the warm-up against Newcastle United last weekend, while midfielder Steven Davis is fit after an ankle problem.