|Southampton 2 v 2 Derby County|
Wednesday, 16th January 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Saints v Everton The Preview
Friday, 18th Jan 2019 08:00
Saints have had a good record at home to the Toffees in recent years and they need to keep the run going and make sure the visitors return to Merseyside feeling as blue as their shirts.
Ralph Hasenhuttl will be relieved that he has a few more options for the visit of Everton with Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, Charlie Austin and Jan Valery returning from suspension and Danny Ings from injury and perhaps an odd surprise or two on the bench.
Everton willbe no easy task, although their form has been a bit up and down a win for them at St Mary's could put them back up to 7th and they have aspirations to end the season there and start to push the Big Six in the coming years.
But this season has been propped up by their home form where they have won 6 out of 12 and drawn 3. On the road they have won only twice, drawing 3 and losing 5.
The two wins came at Leicester back in October and then in December when they wacked Burnley, they are a tight unit, their defeats have come at Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool & Manchester City four of the big six with only Brighton managing to beat them outside the top echelons.
This suggests it won't be easy for Saints but we have a spirit about us these days.
Our Achilles heel though is the centre of our defence, the reality is that it needs bolstering, whilst it will have some games where it gets lucky and gets way with its errors, too often it gets punished and the lapses are costing us dearly they have to be rectified and no partnership already at the club seems able to stop the rot despite Ralph's talents to get the best out of people.
There is nothing lacking in spirit, but spirit doesn't mark players in the penalty area and as the second goal for Derby showed on Wednesday night it seems that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
This is the first of two home games, ideally we would win both of them and push ourselves right up into mid table, but I would be happy with four points out of the six or even three.
Two defeats though would be a setback, so it is important to come through the Everton game undefeated and give us a foundation to build on for the visit of Palace and going forward.
Photo: Action Images
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