Southampton vs Everton

Saturday, 25 November, 2017 0comments  |  Jump to last
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Leighton Baines will return at left back after sitting out the defeat to Atalanta

Everton will look to quickly forget Thursday's debacle against Atalanta as they travel to fellow strugglers Southampton.

The Blues' 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Italian side in the Europa League could potentially destroy the fragile confidence that had built among the players following a win and a draw in the Premier League.

Taking charge of his seventh match since stepping into the breach created by Ronald Koeman's sacking, David Unsworth sounded determined in his press conference yesterday not to let that happen. The caretaker boss reiterated his disappointment at the manner of Everton's late collapse and suggested again that a number of the players selected for the Atalanta game are unlikely to keep their place this weekend.

“Last night was obviously very, very disappointing,” Unsworth said. “We've got to put that to bed very, very quickly.

“The players who were involved last night know exactly how I feel. They know that I feel they let the club down and that's a big disappointment.

“We've got to put it to bed, move on and we've got a big game on Sunday.”

Of critical concern for Unsworth will be Everton's defensive frailties but with Phil Jagielka a doubt because of a groin injury, he could be forced to field the same central-defensive partnership of Michael Keane and Ashley Williams that was so susceptible on Thursday evening.

Unsworth revealed that Keane, along with the entire back line, is being encouraged to get back to basics and not be afraid to hit row Z if necessary, although it was positional sense and weakness from set-pieces rather than the defenders' use of the ball that was so alarming against Atalanta.

Mason Holgate has sat out the last two games with an injury of his own but he could be available for the trip to St Mary's. Morgan Schneiderlin remains doubtful with the toe injury that forced him off at Crystal Palace while Tom Davies and Oumar Niasse serve one-game and two-game bans respectively. Davies has racked up five bookings on the season while Niasse was the first victim of the FA's controversial new measures to combat diving.

Leighton Baines is expected to return along with Jordan Pickford, and there are likely to be a recalls, too, for Idrissa Gueye, Aaron Lennon and Dominic Calvert-Lewin but those absences — both potential and confirmed — will restrict the manager's ability to revert to the core line-up that has picked up four points from the last six.

Southampton have also made a disappointing start to the season under new boss Mauricio Pellegrino and come into the weekend just a point and two places better off than Everton.

Since edging West Brom at home 1-0 a month ago, the Saints have drawn at Brighton and lost to Burnley and Liverpool.

The Argentine says that he doesn't fear for his job, though, even though Saints dismissed Claude Puel for finishing eighth in 2016-17.

With this game on the south coast and an equally vital clash with West Ham on Wednesday, Everton have the chance to pick up some hugely important points in the space of four days. Win both or at least collect another four points from a possible six and the picture could feel significantly different than it did on Thursday night.

What could be key is keeping things tight and not conceding the first goal, something the Blues haven't been able to manage since the start of the season.

Kick-off: 1.30pm Sunday, 26 November, 2017
Referee: Kevin Friend
Last Time: Southampton 1 - 0 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Keane, Jagielka, Baines, Gueye, Baningime, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin


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