Southampton vs. Everton
Venue: St. Mary’s Stadium
Kick off: 2PM
Premier League leaders Everton travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton this afternoon looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
The Toffees dropped their first points of the campaign at home to Merseyside rivals Liverpool last weekend, while Southampton snatched a dramatic late 3-3 draw with Chelsea.
Everton’s perfect start to the season may be over, and their long winless run against local rivals Liverpool goes on, but there is no diminishing the feel-good factor around the club right now.
Five matches into the campaign and the Toffees still sit proudly at the top of the pile heading into this weekend, already six points better off than they were at the same early stage of last season.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side will now travel to Southampton hoping to remain unbeaten in their first six games of a Premier League season for only the third time, last achieving that in 2013-14.
There are plenty of reasons for them to be confident that they will do exactly that; across all competitions they are now unbeaten in eight games this term, scoring 22 goals in the process.
A run of six games without a clean sheet may be a growing concern for Ancelotti, but they have only conceded once in their last three Premier League away games, winning all of those.
The last time Everton won four successive top-flight away games was in December 1985.
So far Everton have mostly relied on scoring more than their opposition, but Southampton have kept more Premier League clean sheets against Everton than they have against any other team in the competition – 13, 10 of which have come at home.
The Saints will have admittedly rarely come up against an Everton attack in such good form during that time, but Sunday’s hosts have every reason to be confident going into the game themselves.
After a slow start to the season with defeats in their opening two games, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have taken seven points from the last nine available, including two clean sheets and a spirited comeback to draw 3-3 with Chelsea last weekend.
Indeed, those two defeats at the start of this season are the only ones Southampton have suffered in their last 12 top-flight outings stretching back to last term too – a run which includes taking points off Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton themselves.
A 2-0 triumph over West Bromwich Albion before the international break means that victory on Sunday would see Southampton win back-to-back home league games for the first time since last December, although Everton did come out on top in this exact fixture last season and could win consecutive away league visits to Southampton for the first time since January 1992.
Southampton possible XI: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmond, Ings, Adams.
Everton possible XI: Pickford, Godfrey, Mina, Keane, Digne, Doucoure, Allan, Gomes, Rodriguez, Calvert-Lewin, Iwobi.