After a demoralising defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, Everton are back at Goodison Park to host Southampton tomorrow in a game that the Blues really must win to have even a sliver of a hope of European football next season.
The game on Monday was one of those limp and awful performances that Everton unfortunately do turn in far too often away from home. It was an awful composition of everything that is wrong with this current side. Too little commitment, too little energy and virtually no creativity.
The Toffees simply must improve their form away from home against those sides competing with them for a top seven or eight finish and European football if they are to make any progress.
Carlo Ancelotti has spoken publically about the fragility of the team and how this is something that must improve. I wholeheartedly agree.
Moving on from that game, the Blues return to the grand old lady tomorrow night to take on a resurgent Southampton side that are coming off a solid 1-0 win over Manchester City.
They have enjoyed a very good revival overall under new manager Ralph Hassenhuttl since he took over at St Mary’s in December.
The Saints are playing some good football now and looking a much more well-organised and defensively sound outfit under the Austrian’s leadership.
They clearly had a game plan for playing City, (one that many teams have been adopting), involving defending in numbers but keeping their shape and always having an attacking outlet that could enable them to turn defence into counter-attack in an instant.
It worked very well and Southampton deserved the three points, despite having to ride out some difficult moments, as you almost always do when facing City.
So Southampton will travel to Merseyside in confident mood, especially given the dreadful Toffees performance at Spurs.
They also have a player in their team who is always a thorn in the Blues side, Danny Ings, who has scored regularly against the Toffees.
For Everton this is once again, a must win game. The Blues picked up three points at St Mary’s late last year in one of the few decent away efforts under Marco Silva and their form at Goodison has generally been excellent since Ancelotti took over. That must continue tomorrow night.
There are several important selection decisions to be made, particularly again in the middle of the park where the Toffees have such constant problems.
I hope to see a more positive midfield selection from Ancelotti tomorrow. His side against Spurs mystified me a little and playing three similar central midfield types together, clearly didn’t work.
So I would like to see Anthony Gordon get another start as he was the one bright spot in attack against Spurs. And perhaps also give Djibril Sidibe a chance again on the right to provide pace and creativity, things that were badly missing on Monday.
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Frankly there is no one in the midfield who should have any guarantee of a start.
Even Andre Gomes, who is certainly talented and technically the best player in the team, has been very poor recently.
Thinking about it I would be tempted to give more of the Blues youngsters like Beni Banningame, an opportunity to play in the centre.
To be honest they can’t do much worse than the senior players if Monday night is anything to go by!
It underlines the poverty of his midfield options that Ancelotti might have to consider debuts for such youngsters to give his team any real energy and creativity. The summer transfer window can’t come soon enough.
So what will the result be? I’ve generally avoided making predictions earlier in the season but I have been doing so recently and I’m going to go for a 2-0 win for Everton…