Southampton vs Everton
Venue: St Mary’s Stadium
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Referee: Kevin Friend
Southampton host high-flying Everton on Sunday afternoon with both sides eager to build on their strong recent form.
With Everton winning four and drawing one of their opening five matches, Carlo Ancelotti’s men sit top of the table in a Premier League season that has been packed full of drama, goals and controversy thus far. Southampton meanwhile struggled in their first two outings, albeit against tricky opponents in Wolves and Spurs. Since then, they have picked up seven points, most recently coming back in remarkable fashion to draw 3-3 with Chelsea last weekend. Everton themselves played their part in an entertaining draw last time out, as they shared the spoils with Liverpool in a dramatic Merseyside Derby.
Former Liverpool man Danny Ings has been the star man for the Saints in the past 12 months, and this campaign he has picked up from where he left off last season. With four games in the league so far, Ings will be looking to add to his tally on Sunday, having scored against the Blues in both matches last season.
Everton have their own in-form English striker leading the line. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been the standout player in the Premier League this campaign, having found the back of the net seven times already. Add to that his three goals in the League Cup and debut goal for England this month, you will be hard pressed to find a more in-form forward in European football.
It is usually a very even battle between these two sides, with the last six matches in all competitions culminating in two wins apiece and two draws, with all scorelines reading either 1-1 or 2-1. Expect a closely fought affair come Sunday afternoon.
The hosts have Stuart Armstrong available as the midfielder has completed his Covid-19 recovery. Theo Walcott, who made a positive return to the Saints against Chelsea last time out, is ineligible to face his parent club.
Moussa Djenepo is unlikely to return from a hamstring injury, meaning Armstrong and Nathan Redmond will likely start out wide. Expect the aerial ability of Jannick Vestergaard and Jen Bednark to be utilised by Ralph Hasenhuttl to combat Calvert-Lewin’s threat in the air.
Having earlier dismissed James Rodriguez’s chances of playing this weekend, Ancelotti infuriated fantasy football managers everywhere by announcing in his Friday press conference that the Colombian could feature. The suspended Richarlison will most likely be replaced by Alex Iwobi, while Ben Godfrey is set to make his full Everton debut at right-back in place of the hamstrung Seamus Coleman.
Predicted Starting XIs:
Southampton: McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Armstrong, Redmond; Ings, Adams.
Everton: Pickford; Godfrey, Keane, Mina, Digne; Allan, Doucoure, Gomes; Rodriguez, Calvert-Lewin, Iwobi.
Score Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Everton
I expect this match to follow the recent pattern of results featuring these teams with a 2-1 scoreline. When Rodriguez plays, the Toffees look are a far superior outfit, and should have enough to outclass their opponents.
However, the Che Adams-Danny Ings strike partnership caused havoc at Stamford Bridge last Saturday, and with Everton’s defence looking creaky at best, the Saints have plenty of reason to be positive. It should prove to be a very intriguing watch to start your Sunday afternoon.