Another must win as Everton take on Southampton

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Shane Long of Southampton is challenged by Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Everton FC at St Mary's Stadium on January 19, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Shane Long of Southampton is challenged by Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Everton FC at St Mary's Stadium on January 19, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images) /

This Saturday Everton once again take the trip down south to take on Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium in their latest ‘must win’ match in the Premier League.

What to say about this game? it’s very difficult to muster any enthusiasm for another Blues game. Once more it’s fixture Everton have to win as they stare down the barrel of a possible relegation battle this season.

Another defeat on the south coast could see the Toffees slip into that relegation zone, which is just unbelievable.

At the start of this season I was wary of being overly optimistic, after all I’m an Evertonian and I know how dangerous that can be! I did think though that there might be room for some cautious hope about the Blues prospects.

There had been tentative signs of improvement in Everton’s performances during the final third of last season, at home anyway. It seemed as if Marco Silva had finally found a team and system that worked, although there were still signs of ominous fragility on the road.

And with Andre Gomes joining on a permanent deal, (something must Blues fans were pleased about), and new signings like sought after young forward Moise Kean and Alex Iwobi being added, perhaps the Toffees were beginning to move forward..?

There was frustration about some of the club’s transfer dealings. In particular the failure to add another centre-back when it became clear Kurt Zomua wasn’t coming back to Goodison Park. The sale of Idrissa Gueye was also difficult and it was essential Everton found a replacement.

And then the saga surrounding Wilfried Zaha’s future, which ended in lots of confusion about bids not being made and great uncertainly as to whether the Blues had been serious about signing him at all.

However transfer market frustrations aside, as the season approached there was also a fixture list that looked tailor-made for a fast start – ha! But of course any hesitant optimism was quickly shown to be misplaced. It soon became clear that Everton were right back where they had been a year ago.

The Blues were stuttering in attack, letting in easy goals at the back, especially once more from set-plays, and lacking direction, energy and consistency. So many players were under-performing, and Silva persisted with individuals who were clearly not producing the goods, week after week after week.

So here we are looking up at rest of the Premier League as other clubs make a far better start to the season and the old enemy across Stanley Park are top of the table. It’s a really depressing situation.

It’s beginning to remind me a little bit of how things were when I was a kid at the start of the eighties. Everton were stuck in constant struggles in the bottom half of the first division, while Liverpool lifted European trophies and league titles almost every year. A nightmare that never seemed to end.

I sincerely hope we’re not heading back to an era like that again.

Bringing it back to today, what team should Marco Silva pick for this basement battle at St Mary’s?

Given the raft of injuries Everton have suffered it makes selecting a possible starting eleven a little easier!

The defence should be the same five players who started against Spurs. I would stick with Mason Holgate alongside Yerry Mina and also Djibril Sidibe should also start again at right-back.

Holgate has done enough to merit another chance to build a partnership with Mina and his attributes compliment the big Colombian well.

I also think Sidibe also offers more pace, drive, quality on the ball and defensive solidity than Seamus Coleman.

Now it gets more difficult as we move into midfield. With Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbmain both out long-term, Silva basically has Tom Davies, Morgan Schniederlin, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fabian Delph to pick from.

I don’t want to see Schniederlin back in the team. His game is too slow and methodical and his form has been very poor when he’s played, so I wouldn’t want to see him play.

If Silva persists with the 4-3-3 type system he finally went with against Spurs, then I think he will pick Sigurdsson, Davies and Delph.

I’ve not been impressed with Sigurdsson either this term, he’s had a very inconsistent and erratic season, like most of his teammates actually.

However frankly their are few other choices and I think partnering him with the busy, energetic Davies and with Delph’s defensive solidity, would be the best option. The Iceland player could also operate in the hole behind the Toffees frontline if required.

Sigurdsson might also respond to the fact he has been benched recently and perhaps he will get hold of the game and produce his best at last..?

Up front is even trickier. There are more options than in midfield but it’s impossible to pick any forwards who are in any kind of form.

With Bernard unavailable, who should start – Richarlison, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi, Moise Kean, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Cenk Tosun?

None frankly inspire much confidence at the moment. I would probably go with a starting three of Walcott, Richarlison and Iwobi.

Iwobi hasn’t been playing well at all recently but his pace, strength and trickery on the ball might suit exposing a very fragile Southampton team.

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Meanwhile Walcott and Richarlison haven’t exactly set the Premier League alight but they are probably the best option with Calvert-Lewin, Kean and Tosun available from the bench if Everton need to change their approach.

Again I’m not predicting the outcome of this game. Given the Blues terrible away record, especially on the south coast, it’s more than likely they will mess this up and leave with no points come 5 pm on Saturday.

However will defeat mean the end of Silva’s time at Goodison Park or make any difference and force the changes needed??