Back-to-back league wins have eased our worries but we remain six points shy of the 40-point mark and host a Southampton team who have regained sharpness at a crucial time in the race for European qualification.
In contrast to Southampton’s challenge at the top of the table, Everton have struggled in the league and only pulled away from danger with wins over Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers prior to the international break.
Goodison Park has not been the fortress it usually is this term – Everton have won just four matches on home soil and Martinez knows making that five will be no easy task.
“We are facing a difficult side at the weekend, for me they are the revelation of the season,” the Spaniard said. “It is a great opportunity for us to focus and be ready for such difficult opponents.
“They are a really strong side, well-structured and creative with forward play. They have got the best defensive record in the league. That is why they are so competitive. Ronald Koeman has done a sensational job.”
Everton recorded a 2-1 victory in this fixture last season thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s late winner, but Southampton have won both matches since without conceding a goal.
The reverse fixture at St Mary’s Stadium in December was a comfortable 3-0 win for Koeman’s men, and started a run of six matches without a win for Everton.
Bryan Oviedo and Tony Hibbert will definitely miss this one through injury. Romelu Lukaku faces a late fitness test and question marks remain over Darron Gibson, Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar.
Everton: Griffiths, Howard, Joel, Stanek, Alcaraz, Baines, Browning, Coleman, Distin, Garbutt, Jagielka, Stones, Atsu, Barkley, Barry, Besic, Gibson, Lennon, McCarthy, McGeady, Osman, Pienaar, Kone, Long, Lukaku, Mirallas, Naismith.
Southampton: K Davis, Gazzaniga, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Clyne, Fonte, Gape, Gardos, Targett, Yoshida, S Davis, Djuricic, Elia, Mane, McQueen, Reed, Schneiderlin, Tadic, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, Gallagher, Long, Pelle, Seager.
Referee: Lee Mason Assistants: A Halliday, L Betts Fourth Official: N Swarbrick
Match Facts (supplied by Opta)
- Southampton have won none of their last nine trips to Goodison Park in the Premier League (W0 D2 L7) and won just one of 15 away games against the Toffees overall (W1 D3 L11).
- Everton have failed to score in three of their last four Barclays Premier League matches against Southampton.
- Everton have scored three own goals in their last two Premier League matches against Saints.
- Everton’s record Premier League win came at home against Southampton in November 1996 (7-1), a result they matched v Sunderland in November 2007.
- Roberto Martinez’s side have won four of their last 15 league outings at Goodison Park (W4 D7 L4).
- Ronald Koeman’s side have lost just one of their last six Premier League away matches (W4 D1 L1).
- Graziano Pellè has not scored or assisted a goal in any of his last 13 Premier League appearances, despite attempting 34 shots (inc. blocked) and creating 12 goalscoring chances for his teammates in these games.
- If Southampton win this match, they’ll equal their best ever points tally in a single Premier League season (56 in 2013-14).
- Everton have won just eight of their 30 Premier League games this season, half the number that they won at this stage last season (16).
- Southampton have dropped just two points from leading positions all season in the Premier League (W16 D1 of the 17 games they have led in) – fewer than any other side.