Competition: Premier League – Southampton vs. Everton
Venue: St Mary’s Stadium – Saturday, August 15 – 12:45 BST (07:45 ET)
Match Odds: Southampton 19/20 – Draw 23/10 – Everton 3/1
Southampton have faced another summer of overhaul as stars like Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne have left for Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
However, Ronald Koeman’s side remain a side to be feared and will be looking to replicate their excellent form from the last campaign, starting with a win in their first home game of the season.
The Saints have Europa League commitments to deal with this season but will be hoping to push for a Champions League place as they did last time out.
Everton started this season with a disappointing draw against Watford last weekend, despite being at home.
Arouna Kone’s 86th minute equaliser earned Everton a point, however, Roberto Martinez will see it as two points dropped as opposed to a point gained and he is under pressure to get the Toffees firing after a poor 2014/15 campaign.
Without the distraction of Europe this season, Everton will want to improve on last season’s bottom half finish and aim for a Europa League place at the least.
And picking up wins away at places like Southampton will be necessary if they are to reach their goals this coming season.
The last meeting between these two sides ended 1-0 to Everton at Goodison Park, though last season’s game at St Mary’s ended in a convincing 3-0 win to the Saints.
Southampton have Jordy Clasie, Steven Caulker and Gaston Ramirez as doubts for the visit of Everton. Florin Gardos and Ryan Bertrand are both out and Fraser Forster is likely to miss the entire season with a serious knee injury sustained last term. New signing Oriol Romeu will be hoping to make the squad after joining this week.
Everton will be missing Leighton Baines, Tony Hibbert, Aiden McGeady, Darren Gibson and Steven Pienaar through injuries. Gerard Deulofeu, Muhamed Besic and Kevin Mirallas are all doubts but could feature. Arouna Kone will be pushing for a start after impressing from the bench last weekend.
Southampton’s form: D
Everton’s form: D
Key Stat: Southampton have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches against Everton in all competitions.
Key Player: Ross Barkley – England international Barkley could be the most creative player on the pitch on Saturday so expect him to cause havoc to the Saints defence off the back of last weekend’s screamer.
Southampton 1-1 Everton – We’re expecting both sides to be on the attack as they search for three points after both drawing on the opening day. However, that could see them cancel each other out in a score draw in Saturday’s early kickoff.