Apr 25, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
- Everton have gone four matches without a win at St Mary’s since 2002 (D3, L1)
- Saints have the highest average ball possession (59.5%) in the league
- The Toffees have won 18 and lost one of the 20 league games in which they’ve opened the scoring
Southampton welcome Everton to St. Mary’s on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) as two of the Premier League’s most stylish sides collide.
Expect silky skills in abundance.
With both teams impressing throughout the PL season, they’ve definitely exceeded expectations as Saints sit in eighth spot, while Everton are in fifth with a real chance of qualifying got the UEFA Champions League by finishing in the top four.
The Toffees know they can’t come unstuck against a hugely talented Southampton side, who boast two PFA Player of the Year nominees in Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw. Saints have brushed away reports that they are going to sell their best players this summer and have stated their intent to build on what will likely be their best-ever season in the Premier League.
Everton have won eight of their last nine and are coming off the back of a hugely impressive home victory over Manchester United last time out, as Robert Martinez‘s side are going all out to finish in the top four. As for Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino, his young side have being playing well without getting wins as they’re now three games without victory in the PL.
In team news Everton will be missing Kevin Mirallas who is out for the season, while Sylvain Distin is also out. As for Southampton, Morgan Schneiderlin is out injured as he joins long-term absentees Jay Rodriguez, Kelvin Davis and Maya Yoshida on the treatment table.
What they’re saying
Mauricio Pochettino on facing Everton: “It’s going to be an amazing challenge because we’re going to be facing a team that’s trying to break into the top four. They’re a great side and they’re having a great end to the season as well, but we’re going to try and dominate the game and to win the game with a very good performance against them.”
Roberto Martinez on Saints’ impressive season: “It’s a team that plays with a real bravery, they condense the spaces, they press very dynamic and they have got really good quality in the young players that have been given strong roles. It’s been very impressive how they always get good performances against the top sides, especially at home. They always get good results against the top teams. I think that shows you that the team plays with incredible swagger, with incredible intelligence in the way that they are set up tactically and they make it very difficult.”
This game should be one for the purists, with both Saints and Everton possessing a plethora of talented youngsters. The Toffees need the win more than Saints, as Martinez’s men aim to push Arsenal all the way for the final UEFA Champions League spot. That said, Saints are a dangerous team and Everton know that only too well. With plenty of injuries piling up for both teams, players on each side will be eager to prove their worth. Saints could pull off a shock here but I am going for an entertaining draw at St. Mary’s.
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