By Andrew Winterbottom
Saturday 18th August 2018
After a thrilling, hard earned point away at Molineux last weekend, the Toffees return to Goodison in the second week and will be looking to get their first three points on the board to kick start the campaign. The visitors will also be hopeful of a positive result after they failed to overcome a Burnley side at St Marys, drawing 0-0.
Heading into game two, most Blues will be feeling much more confident than they were this time last week. The opening game saw Everton put up an encouraging display away against a strong Wolves side full of confidence. Fans would have definitely taken a point beforehand but after taking the lead twice it was perhaps a disappointment we didn’t come away with the full three, however going down to ten men the task was always going to be difficult. The contest saw the Blues start and impressively maintain a high tempo, looking sharp and composed on the ball, the signs were promising.
Stand out performer, Richarlison, gave the Toffees faithful a real sense of optimism. Two well taken goals, especially the second, signalled that the Brazilian was keen to quickly make an impact and justify the heavy price tag lying on the wingers shoulders. As well as his brace, he also showcased a real will to track back and fight for every ball, looking hungry to make his presence felt immediately in a royal blue shirt. The Everton new boy will be looking to keep this level up on a consistent basis, starting Saturday in his competitive home debut.
Going into Saturday, the Blues have no new injury concerns. Richarlison came off late in the game last week suffering from cramp but will be fully recovered in time for the weekends clash. New signings Bernard and Gomes are both reportedly thought to still be around two to three weeks away from full fitness so they are expected to miss the game. Centre back, Phil Jagielka will also be absent as the defender begins his ban after seeing red last time out.
As Jagielka is not available, the door opens for new signings Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma. The two late deadline day arrivals will both be vying to work their way into Silva’s plans, however it is doubtful the gaffer will start with both after such a short time together. Zouma seems the most likely to start between the two having trained most of the week. Micheal Keane also put in a competent performance in the opener so it would be harsh for him to lose his spot.
The Saints come into the game on the back of a dull 0-0 opener against Burnley. Southampton looked uninspiring for large parts of the contest as they saw the visitors control the tempo of the proceedings and enjoy a large amount of the possession. Whilst the home side struggled to hold the ball or muster much going forward, they did restrict their opponents from creating many chances and looked mostly solid throughout the ninety minutes.
Midway through the second, the Saints introduced new signings Elyounoussi and Danny Ings, giving the South Coast outfit a more positive, attacking perspective. Whilst the new boys failed to get themselves on the score sheet, they did make Southampton much more of a threat and they looked like they could make a real difference in terms of their attacking options going forward.
One of the biggest flaws of the Saints in recent times has been their lack of ability to score goals and show a clinical edge. With the deadline day signing of Danny Ings from Liverpool this could make all the difference and prove to be a masterstroke from manager Mark Hughes.
Southampton come into the game with no injury or suspension worries and are likely to field the same side, bar one or two, as they did last time out.
This is a game Everton fans will be fully expecting a win from, especially after last weeks impressive performance. The Goodison faithful will be looking forward to returning to league action on home turf ready to see the Blues notch their first win of the year. A point for Southampton would be classed as a good result for the visitors as they look to get early points on the board. These early fixtures are crucial for the Saints as they will be looking to do everything possible to ensure last years relegation scare dosent reoccur.
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Gueye, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson; Richarlison, Tosun, Walcott.
Southampton: Mccarthy; Cedric, Stephens, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Bertrand; Lemina, Romeu; Redmond, Ings, Elyounoussi.
Score Prediction: Everton 3-1 Southampton