Everton’s season slumped to a new low on Thursday night, when a mid-table Italian side who hadn’t won away from home this season turned up at Goodison and obliterated the Blues 5-1.
David Unsworth takes charge of his seventh consecutive game, over a month has passed since the sacking of Ronald Koeman and the Toffees look no closer to appointing a new manager than they did on the day the Dutchman departed.
If there is one miniscule piece of positivity from Thursdays farce, it is that Sandro Ramirez netted his first competitive goal for the club, a much-needed strike for the Spaniard having looked half the player he was at Malaga last term. Evertonians will be hoping that is just the break Sandro needed.
Southampton are under new management after dismissing Claude Puel last season, former Liverpool defender Mauricio Pellegrino hasn’t enjoyed the most spectacular of starts to life at the Saints, currently sitting just one point above the side they welcome to St. Mary’s.
You have to look back over a month ago for Southampton’s last win, a 1-0 victory over West Brom on October 21st. But if Everton’s antics in the Europa League are anything to go by, Southampton are the form team going into this one.
Who should the visitors be wary of?
A man who was strongly linked with a switch to the Blues before he moved to Southampton was Manolo Gabbiadini, a man who bagged six goals in his first four games for the south coast side, but has only managed a further three in the 18 appearances that have followed.
But the Italian clearly has an eye for goal, and anyone would fancy their chances to get their name on the scoresheet the way in which Everton have defended this season.
Tricky attacker Sofiane Boufal hasn’t set the league alight since his £16 million move from Lille in 2016 but the Morocco international has proved he’s got the quality to torment teams, his strike in Southampton’s last win epitomised that, taking the ball from his own half, dribbling past the vast majority of the Baggies defenders then fired past Ben Foster, his fine effort then picked up the Premier League goal of the month.
And with Everton’s troubles at full-back, if he is selected Boufal will be relishing the task of running up against them.
Team news –
Mario Lemina will take a late fitness test to determine whether he can take part in this one, and fellow midfielder Oriol Romeu is suspended for the clash.
Top-scorer Oumar Niasse will serve his first of a two-game suspension after being found guilty of ‘conning the referee’, whereas Tom Davies has accumulated five yellows and will have to sit it out. Unsworth is hopeful Phil Jagielka and Morgan Schneiderlin will be fit for the game.
After Thursday’s debacle there should be no one in that squad who doesn’t want to put it right for the Blues, a much-needed win will propel Everton further away from the dreaded relegation zone, overtaking the hosts in the process and ending the 10 months wait for a win on the road in the process.