|Everton 3 v 1 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 14th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Everton The Preview
Friday, 13th Aug 2021 07:45
Saints kick off the 2021/22 season at bogey ground Everton and unlike much of the second half of last season when we literally put out the last XI men standing, there is plenty of speculation about just what line up Ralph Hasenhuttl will put out.
The one good thing about starting the season at Everton is that whatever result we end up with it will at worst be what we usually get at Goodison and that is defeat, a draw is a rare treat and quite literally no one under the age of 30 can remember the last time we won there in the League back in 1997 when Kevin Davis stole the show with a wonder goal.
Indeed since our return to the top flight in 1978 we have only won one other League game at Goodison and that was back in 1992.
So a win is long overdue, yes ok we did manage a win in the League cup 3 years ago, but that was on penalties.
So it's a bit of a free hit for us and perhaps this season we will have our best chance in a long while. Everton have had issues this summer, gone is the £100 million plus spent on new signings each summer and it has been in the bargain basement for the Toffee's.
But they could be without there two main strikers, Dominic Calvert Lewin has been injured since returning from the Euros and missed the friendly at Old Trafford last weekend and is a doubt for the Saints game and Richarlison only arrived back from playing in the Olympics earlier this week and has not had a break in almost 12 months, playing around 60 games for club and country, the Olympics notching up the 15th game he has played for Brazil since the end of the Premier League season.
In the Saints camp despite losing Danny Ings, Ralph Hasenhuttl will feel that he has a squad at last and is near having the two players for each position he has spoken of.
So unlike the tail end of last season he has options and he has decisions to make, the first is in goal, will it be Fraser Forster or Alex McCarthy, if he goes with pre season form then it will be Forster who has impressed in his outings whereas McCarthy had a bit of a nightmare against Athletic Club Of Bilbao.
The back four will be missing Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand from last season, but the feeling is that they will not be a big loss, I would expect that to be a simple choice for Ralph, Walker Peters, Bednarek, Salisu and new signing Romain Peraud.
The midfield will be tougher, if Ralph stays with 4-4-2 then Ward Prowse and Oriol Romeu will anchor the centre, Stuart Armstrong will play right and then the left side could be one of Theo Walcott, Djenepo, Nathan Redmond or even Tino Livramento.
Up front it is another dilemma , does Ralph throw in Adam Armstrong for a starting debut or hold him back on the bench, I suspect it may be the latter and Che Adams could be paired with either Theo Walcott or Nathan Tella .
The good news is the bench will be packed with experience, potentially Redmond, Stephens, Djenepo & Diallo with several new signings in Adam Armstrong, Armando Brajo& Tino Livramento all in the mix, perhaps even Simeu or dare I say it Moi Elyounoussi.
So although the squad will not be as tight as Ralph would have hoped at the back, he will feel that he has a better squad than back in March when Ralph had 7 youngsters on the bench with only Alex McCarthy and Jack Stephens with any experience.
That game saw a narrow 1-0 defeat for Saints, but this time we should have not only a starting XI that can compete but a bench that can generally change things.
So we go to Goodison Park with more options than usual and getting off to a good start could do wonders for the confidence.
It will be tough, there is a mental block to get through when we play at Goodison Park, but truth is Everton themselves are in a bit of turmoil and there are questions about the commitment of some of their squad, can we finally get that first league win in 24 years.
Photo: Action Images
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When Saturday Comes #10 by wessex_exile
So here we are again, still looking for that elusive first home league win of the season, only this time against high-flying (and recently non-league) Harrogate Town. That isn’t meant to be in any way disrespectful for Harrogate Town, they should be applauded for what they have achieved so far, but it is nevertheless a measure of how far our stock has fallen in recent years that we find ourselves in this situation. I have no doubt that today will be a difficult game, but it’ll be even more so if Hayden Mullins doesn’t take anything from recent performances and realise that what he’s trying just doesn’t seem to be working – he simply has to change things around. Whether he will or not remains to be seen – maybe he will, maybe won’t and the old guard will finally come good? I guess we’ll know one way or another by 5pm.
When Saturday Comes #9 by wessex_exile
After the complete horror-show that was U’s v Salford last Saturday, we find ourselves desperately clinging on to our away form like a drowning man to a lifebuoy…and I have no doubt Tranmere will be seriously stamping on our fingers in that regard. As a Friday night kick-off, I can look forward to the live match stream, which I was fortunately spared for the Salford game (it sounded bad enough). Swings and roundabouts though, if this hadn’t been rearranged to a Friday night, I may well have joined my Tranmere mate Chris and his family for the weekend – Prenton Park is always a good visit for an awayday, so safe travelling and good luck to Durham and the rest of the U’s faithful who make the trip.
When Saturday Comes #8 by wessex_exile
I’ve gone back through my archive, and the last football match I attended before last Saturday at the County Ground was U’s at Cheltenham on 29th February 2020 (and covered in LfW11) – In other words a 574 day wait. Others have mentioned about finding other things to do, losing their love for live football, things like that, and certainly my bank balance has appreciated the break from costly awaydays for the best (worst) part of 18 months. If I’m honest, I was slightly worried that I would go the same way, that the attraction would fade after so long, but I needn’t have been. As a result, it’ll be a slightly different format to this When Saturday Comes blog.
When Saturday Comes #7 by wessex_exile
Well that didn’t go as planned at all – after a stirring battling performance full of grit, character and togetherness with the small band of travelling supporters at Barrow, the U’s then finally returned back to the JobServe and completely failed to turn up against bogey side Crawley. They weren’t the only ones either, Hayden Mullins was absent as well, and we have since learned he has Covid-19 and will also miss tomorrow’s game at Swindon too – I know we all wish Hayden a speedy recovery. Fortunately, I won’t be missing the match, with tickets arriving last weekend – first live game for best part of 18 months, and I can’t bloody wait!
When Saturday Comes #6 by wessex_exile
After over a month of absence, the U’s finally make a welcome return to the JobServe for a home league fixture. Sutton seem to have quickly got over their Covid-19/ injury crisis/ international call-up woes, fielding a team the following Tuesday that was strong enough to push Cardiff City hard in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Championship side. But enough of that, I haven’t seen the outcome of the EFL investigation, but I don’t doubt the decision has either already been or will be rubber-stamped. Gamesmanship – maybe, but I hope at least the EFL are now a bit more alert to the fact that some might think they can treat them like chumps when it suits their purpose? Still – it’s great to be back home isn’t it!
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