PREVIEW: Saints vs Everton

By SFC Media time Fri 25 Apr Club

Saints play their penultimate home game of the season against the Toffees on Saturday in the day’s early kick-off at 12.45pm.

Roberto Martinez’s Champions League chasing Everton side are in town hoping to steal an early march on fourth placed Arsenal by going above the Gunners who don’t play until Monday.

A point at St Mary’s would be enough for the Merseysiders to climb above Arsène Wenger’s men on goal difference, though a Toffees side which has won eight out of the last nine Premier League fixtures, will be aiming as high as possible.

Saints are without a win in three matches and not scored in their last two games, but the results don’t tell the whole stories of their recent performances, with last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Aston Villa proving to be an especially frustrating day in front of goal.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men are within three points of equalling the club’s best ever point tally of 52 in the Barclays Premier League, and will be looking to put extra breathing space between themselves and Newcastle in ninth place before the Geordies play again on Monday.

It finished 2-1 to Everton in the reverse of this fixture during December. Seamus Coleman put the hosts into an early lead, but Saints hit back through Gaston Ramirez’s second goal against the Toffees in three matches. Romelu Lukaku’s 74th minute strike went on to win the game for Everton.

Saints have lost only one of the last 12 home league games with the Toffees (Won 6 Drawn 5).

Everton are however, unbeaten in eight Premier League matches with Saints, winning four and drawing four.

Everton are also one of the leading teams when it comes to late goals, with 18 strikes coming in the last 15 minutes of league games this season.

On the current connections front, Everton’s Steven Naismith is a former teammate of Saints’ Steven Davis from their time together at Glasgow Rangers, with both men departing the Scottish side in 2012 for pastures new.

If he plays, on loan midfielder Gareth Barry will make his first return o St Mary’s since putting through his own net in a 3-1 defeat for Manchester City here last year. 

Team News

Artur Boruc returned to the Saints goal last weekend and is expected to keep his place in the side.

Nathaniel Clyne and Victor Wanyama also returned in the game at Villa Park, keeping Calum Chambers and Jack Cork out of the team. Maya Yoshida and Jay Rodriguez are long-term knocks, whilst Gaston Ramirez hopes to recover from an ankle injury.

Everton were already without Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar, defender Phil Jagielka and strikers Lacina Traore and Arouna Kone.

The Toffees have now also lost Kevin Mirallas, who is out for the remainder of the season with a groin injury, whilst defender Sylvain Distin is also ruled out through a knock sustained last weekend, so Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones are likely to deputise for the visitors at the back.

Pre-match quotes

Roberto Martinez:

“It doesn't matter who you are playing against or who you are fighting against to get into that fourth spot it's always the points tally that matters.

“I will go as far to say if you get nine points and you don't get into the Champions League, you can be proud and very happy any way.

“That's the target we are giving ourselves - how many points we can get from now until the end of the season.”

Previous Meetings

It was a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park in December. Everton took the lead through Seamus Coleman’s first half drive, before Gaston Ramirez equalised for Saints midway through the second 45.

Romelu Lukaku won it for the Toffees with a second strike three minutes later.

Last season Saints were defeated 3-1 at Goodison. Gaston Ramirez opened the scoring on 10 minutes, but the Blues hit back with goals from Nikica Jelavic and Leon Osman to take all three points.

It was a goalless draw at St Mary’s in what was Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge of Southampton.

This was a regular league fixture in the top flight until 2005 though Saints’ last win on home soil against the Toffees came in 2002 when a Marian Pahars penalty proved the difference at St Mary’s.

Since then Saints have been unbeaten against the Blues at home, securing successive draws in 2004 and 2005.

Saturday's game is the 90th all-time meeting between the two teams. Everton have the upper hand with 44 victories to Saints’ 25. A further 20 games have ended all square.

Match Information

Michael Oliver will referee Saturday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr S Long and Mr R West. Mr J Moss is the fourth official.

Online Coverage

As with every First Team game, we'll be providing minute-by-minute coverage throughout the day on our official Twitter feed plus goal updates on our official Facebook page.  

You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.

Mauricio Pochettino spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch his interview, as well as the press conference in full on our video channel before the game.

After the match there will be plenty more content on saintsfc.co.uk and Saints Player, so stay tuned!

And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in a future edition of our Matchday Magazine.

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