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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 4 April 2015; 3:00pm
Everton 
1 0
 So'hampton
 Jagielka (16')
Half Time: 1 - 0
 
Attendance: 39,390
Fixture 31
Referee: Lee Mason

Match Summary

Everton registered a third successive Premier League win for the first time this season, edging Champions League-chasing Southampton by Phil Jagielka's first-half goal.

The Blues' skipper was in the right place at the right time to convert Gareth Barry's centre from close range following a corner and that proved to be enough as the defence held firm in the face of periodic pressure from Ronald Koeman's side.

With Romelu Lukaku out injured with a hamstring strain picked up against QPR a fortnight ago, Arouna Kone was deployed as the lone striker, with Ross Barkley playing off him with the industrious Aaron Lennon and Leon Osman in support.

Gareth Barry, meanwhile, returned to the side alongside James McCarthy after serving a two-match suspension and in the wake of Darron Gibson's latest injury.

Southampton settled quickly and, needing to win to keep their top-four hopes alive, they looked the more likely side to make an early breakthrough which they nearly did just five minutes into the contest. Graziano Pelle got a touch on a cross from the right that looked to be looping over Tim Howard until the American pulled off an excellent save to paw the ball off his goal line.

James McCarthy almost engineered a gilt-edged chance in the 14th minute but he was just closed out in the area after beating the first man but Everton took the lead two minutes later after forcing three successive corners.

The final set-piece was initially cleared but when it fell to Barry, he put it back into the six-yard box and Jagielka steered it into far corner to register his first League goal of 2015.

James Ward-Prowse missed by inches from a direct free kick as the Saints pushed for an equaliser and Barry's giveaway in midfield might have been punished but Howard managed to readjust his position in time to stop a long-range shot from the same player a few minutes later.

The scoreline remained unchanged going into the second half, one that largely lapsed into a stalemate as the home side defended dilligently and Southampton struggled to find ways of breaking them down. Everton had dug into a counter-attacking strategy and threatened a few times to pick Koeman's men off on the break but let themselves down with the final ball.

Kone in particular was poor with his distribution in good areas, the latest evidence of his struggles to convince supporters that he is a viable alternative in Lukaku's absence.

The Blues improved after Steven Naismith was introduced in place of Kone with 20 minutes to go but, with the defence looking unlikley to be breached, it was mostly a case of seeing the game out, which Roberto Martinez's side did to move into 11th place, five points off the top half of the table.

As performances go, it was a fairly dull one overall but it was also mostly comfortable once the Saints' early fire had been extinguished. A third victory on the spin shows evidence that Martinez has steadied the ship again after the big setback in Kiev but concerns over the lack if quality in the side remain.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Romelu Lukaku failed a fitness test and was replaced by Arouna Kone up front to face Southampton, with Gibson also not fit and Gareth Barry coming straight back into the side after missing two games through suspension.

Southampton made a confident and determined start, driving at the home side and winning an early free-kick. Everton did respond, Osman doing some rangefinding, but the visitors were rampant, Long playing Pelle in and he cleverly chipped the ball over Howard, forcing him into a tremendous one-handed save to claw the ball out from right under the bar.

The Saints attacks were rapid and incisive, using the full width of the field, and it seemed to inspire Barkley, who was doing his best to get Everton going, winning a free-kick in a good position that Baines crossed in harder than usual, but nothing came of it.

The Blues looked to attack with a bit of deft passing and it appeared like Kone could make something of it until those clever feet of Osman saw the ball given away easily. In the next attack, McCarthy came close off a cross in from Kone, but could not convert, the two players juxtaposed from their optimal positions.

That effort won a couple of corners and Everton scored from the second, Baines putting a good ball in that Stones contacted under pressure and Barry clipped nicely back into the mixer there was Phil Jagielka with the deftest of flicks to turn the angled ball across the line in a packed Southampton area, much to the delight of the assembled Blue masses.

Barkley went on a surging run through the middle but ran into heavy traffic and stalled. Everton then tried attacking down the right wing and Bertrand blocked Lennon to earn a yellow card. McCarthy's shot off the Baines free-kick was blocked but Coleman got a nice cross in that Kone could only head rather wide.

Stones gave away a dangerous free-kick just outside the Dee that Ward-Prowse lashed inches wide with Howard rooted and statuesque on the other side of the goal. It was a very competitive game, however, with Everton responding well to the sharp and penetrative play of the visitors, buoyed no doubt by the go-ahead goal.

Saints were really pulling out the stops, Ward-Prowse driving a great curling shot at Howard, who stuck an arm out in startled fashion to block it away. They won their first corner on the half-hour but it was not cleared properly and led to a second corner, swung in by Ward-Prowse that Long drove at, taking out poor little Osman, almost knocking him out.

A great fast move saw good work from Lennon, Kone again playing wide but crossing well for Osman to attack the ball and win a corner that it looked as if Jagielka could convert but his contact with the ball lacked any directional control.

Barkley was playing a deeper role and trying to pull the strings, helping Baines get forward and put in a great cross that really deserved a better finish. In defence, however, Barkley was left for dead when Long sneaked around the back of him to win a third corner, which to a fourth and a wild shot that was well over.

A dreadful free-kick by John Stones was whacked horribly across the field to no-one and out of play, Everton perhaps showing signs of tiredness before the break after having to really put in a shift to stay in touch with the super-fit and hugely energetic visitors, despite having the one-goal lead.

The second half started a little scrappy with a lot of competitive/niggly challenges breaking up the flow until Lennon got on the ball and it eventually got forward to Osman but there was no-one on the other end of his inviting cross.

Just as the game opened up with some good forward passing, McCarthy turned nicely and with Coleman overlapping, played the most awful of passes way behind the Irishman and out of play, as if he was determined to reinforcing the scaything comments made about him. Kone was just as bed when he had a chance to play in Coleman, sending the ball straight to the feet of a defender.

McCarthy played a much better call forward down the left for Kone to run onto but yet again he passed the ball directly to a defender to end the play and gift the impetus right back to an increasingly intense Southampton side. Lenon and Kone tried some intricate interchanges through the middle, then McCarthy and Lennon, then Barkley, but no-one could get behind the resolute defensive line. Southampton were soon attacking again and winning a corner that Howard had to punch clear.

Everton seemed to struggle, a glorious chance to counter disappearing when Barkley miscontrolled on a surging run and went in reverse. Horrible passes persisted as Everton seemed determine to test themselves in defence, repeatedly giving the ball to the opposition. Stones needed treatment to his nose, as Southampton resumed their relentless attacks, with fresh legs of Tadic and Mane after the hour mark.

Naismith and Besic was Roberto's response, bringing off Kone and Barkley, with a quarter of the game left. Naismith ran into the Saints area and went down after he forced contact on the defender with the ball too far in front of him. No penalty. At the other end, Man stupidly pushed Howard over as a Saints corner was taken. Tadic then danced through to the byeline and pulled it back for Pelle to shoot wide with the Blues a little static.

With 10 mins left, and Everton feeling they could hold out for another precious win, Koeman played his final card, bringing on a striker in place of a centre-back. Lennon went on a tremendous run and appeared to be fouled by Fonte but for not the first time, Le Mason waved away vehement Everton complaints, perhaps because the Saints player got his toe to the ball.

A couple of late Saints corners were delivered superbly by Tadic and Pelle got caught offside, Everton doing good job of being more disciplined as the game moved into 4 mins of added time.

Worth noting that McCarthy had played a number of more adventurous forward balls and put in a lot more forward runs than we are used to seeing, all with little or no end result, perhaps confirming that's not his best suite. McCarthy did his bit to play time out in the final third to ultimately frustrate the visitors, and steal an excellent win for a resurgent Blues side three in a row and another clean sheet for the much maligned Tim Howard, whose tremendous save had arguably won this game.

Michael Kenrick

 

Match Preview

Having recorded back-to-back wins in the Premier League for the first time since September and put more daylight between themselves and the bottom three, Everton return to action following the international break looking forward and upward again rather than over their shoulders.

The top half of the table may be an incredible eight points away but, with eight games left to play, that must be the immediate goal, though 8th place – the highest berth that is realistically achievable now – will hopefully be the one Roberto Martinez is spurring his charges towards.

The final straight of the 2014-15 campaign begins with the visit of Southampton, unquestionably the surprise package and success story of the season. Tipped by many for relegation when they lost Mauricio Pochettino to Spurs and sold half of their team for huge money last summer, the Saints have excelled under Ronald Koeman and sit just outside the top five heading into the weekend.

They're 19 points better off than the Blues and have already inflicted one of the worst defeats on Martinez's side this season in the reverse fixture in December. Everton lost 3-0 that day, the start of a four-match losing streak that derailed the season and had many questioning the Catalan's future at Goodison Park.

With the club now out of the Europa League and still not completely clear of relegation danger, the jury remains out on Martinez but he can use the last few matches of the season to see if he can recapture some of the form of last term and demonstrate his ability to take the team forward.

He may have to start with top scorer, Romelu Lukaku who limped out of the last match at QPR with a hamstring injury and was forced to sit out his country's Euro 2016 qualifiers against Cyrpus and Israel. He will undergo a fitness test on Friday to assess his readiness for Saturday but Arouna Kone, who also went off injured at Loftus Road, has been passed fit.

Darron Gibson is doubtful given that he hasn't yet resumed full training after picking up a groin strain at QPR but Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar could make the squad having resumed training and being declared medically – if not match – fit by Martinez. Tony Hibbert and Bryan Oviedo are the only two players definitely ruled out by the manager.

Whether or not Lukaku makes it is likely to dictate what sort of formation Martinez goes with against Southampton. He started the Belgian alongside Arouna Kone in the last two League games and picked up two wins and he could be tempted to deploy the same strikeforce again if he is able to.

Should Lukaku be ruled out, it's likely that Steven Naismith, Ross Barkley, or both will get the nod to play off the Ivorian, although Leon Osman and Pienaar would offer alterative options in attacking midfield. With the manager reluctant of late to play two wingers, Aaron Lennon as the form player is likely to keep Mirallas on the bench. Few changes are expected at the back, with Leighton Baines presumably recovered from the slight knock he picked up playing for England against Lithuania a week ago.

 

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
Key Links
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Match Reports
2014-15 Reports Index
< QPR (A) Swansea (A) >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Baines
  Jagielka
  Stones
  Coleman
  Barry
  McCarthy
  Osman
  Barkley (71' Besic)
  Lennon
  Kone (70' Naismith)
  Subs not used
  Robles
  Garbutt
  Alcaraz
  Pienaar
  Mirallas
  Unavailable
  Gibson (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Lukaku (injured)
  Oviedo (injured)
  Duffus (injured)
  Long (loan)
  Lundstram (loan)
  McAleny (loan)
  Pennington (loan)
  Grant (loan)
  Junior (loan)
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2)
  Davis
  Clyne
  Fonte
  Alderweireld (83' Djuricic)
  Bertrand
  Ward-Prowse (61' Mane)
  Wanyama
  Schneiderlin
  Long
  Pelle
  Elia (61' Tadic)
  Subs not used
  Yoshida
  Gazzaniga
  Reed
  Targett

Premier League Scores
Saturday
Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-1 Stoke City
Everton 1-0 So'hampton
Leicester 2-1 West Ham
Man United 3-1 Aston Villa
Swansea 3-1 Hull City
West Brom 1-4 QPR
Sunday
Burnley 0-0 Tottenham
Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle
Monday
C Palace 2-1 Man City


Team Pts
1 Chelsea 70
2 Arsenal 63
3 Manchester United 62
4 Manchester City 61
5 Liverpool 54
6 Tottenham Hotspur 54
7 Southampton 53
8 Swansea City 46
9 West Ham United 42
10 Stoke City 42
11 Crystal Palace 39
12 Everton 37
13 Newcastle United 35
14 West Bromwich Albion 33
15 Sunderland 29
16 Hull City 28
17 Aston Villa 28
18 Burnley 26
19 Queens Park Rangers 25
20 Leicester City 22

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