After a 2-0 victory against Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, Southampton heads north to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday. The Saints secured their first Premier League win last weekend when they roared back from one down to score four goals in 30 minutes against Aston Villa. The comeback was inspired by 30-year-old Rickie Lambert, who scored twice and set up another goal.
Joining Lambert in the danger zone were full-back Nathaniel Clyne and recent signing Gaston Ramirez. The two linked up well throughout the match, most notably as Ramirez slipped a superb through ball to the unrushing Clyne, who finished cooly from close range. It was the first start for Ramirez, who came to the Saints from Bologna for 12 million pounds during the summer transfer window. The Uruguayan playmaker joined defender Maya Yoshida and 20-year-old Argentinian goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga as new faces in Nigel Adkins’ starting XI.
Everton comes into the match after suffering a shocking 2-1 loss to Leeds in the League Cup. The loss was particularly devastating as many pundits had pegged the upstart Toffees as an outside favorite to hoist the cup. Now David Moyes’ men must focus on the FA Cup and finishing high enough in the Premier League table to qualify for European competition next season.
Last weekend was a different story for Everton, who dazzled in a 3-0 thrashing of Swansea in Wales. Victor Anichebe deputized for the injured Nikica Jelavic and was a force up top, creating numerous chances and opening the scoring with a volley from six yards out. Marouane Fellaini was again the centerpiece for Everton, orchestrating the attack, setting up Anichebe’s goal and scoring one for himself. Beglian sensation Kevin Mirallas also contributed to the onslaught by hitting the bar twice and scoring his first of the season.
Both teams enter the match with their first team in good health although Darron Gibson (thigh) and Tony Hibbert (knock) will likely miss the match for Everton.
Everton Money Line (Must Win In 90 Mins): -275
Everton -1.5 Spread Line (Win By 1 = Loss; Win By 2 = Win): +110
Southampton Money Line (Must Win In 90 Mins): +650
Southampton +1.5 Spread Line (Lose By 1 = Win; Lose By 2 = Loss): -150
Over/Under 3 Goals: EVEN/-130
First Goalscorer: Nikica Jelavic 10/3, Marouane Fellaini 11/2, Steven Pienaar 11/1; Rickie Lambert 10/1, Jay Rodriguez 12/1, Gaston Ramirez 14/1
Everton will need to be careful not to overlook this match, as Southampton has a squad capable of snatching all three points. The Saints have only one Premiership win, but it was deserved having played both Manchester clubs closely, losing 3-2 in both matches. Nigel Adkins’ side plays a brand of football that matches up quite well to that of Everton: direct, creative link-up play that looks to get forward as quickly as possible.
It doesn’t help Southampton’s cause, however, that Everton were embarrassed by Leeds midweek. The loss will serve as a wake-up call to David Moyes’ side and I expect the Toffees to bring an up-tempo attack that features Jelavic, Mirallas, Fellaini and Steven Pienaar all pushing high up the pitch. The key battle will be fought on Everton’s left side, where Leighton Baines and Pienaar will do their best to outwit Clyne, who has been very impressive for the Saints thus far.
Ultimately this should be a highly entertaining, end-to-end battle that is full of goals. I like Everton to pull out the victory but expect it to be quite close. The only line I’d advocate taking is the over 3 goals at even money.
Final Score: Everton 3, Southampton 1