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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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Sanguin added 09:24 - Aug 13
Sounds right. While they're unpopular players with fans, I'd expect Stephens and Redmond to start this one.

WestSussexSaint added 10:50 - Aug 13
I think Ralph is likely to start with the tried and tested where possible tomorrow with only Peraud and Salisu coming in because last season’s starters in those positions are no longer at the club. Adams and Tella partnered well together in preseason so I expect them to start up front with AA on the bench for this one. Forster in goal is also a no brainier after the preseason.

It’s the bench that has me excited with loads of potential talent to change things if needed. So often last season Ralph was criticised for not having a plan B but in part this was due to the lack of options off the bench. That is not an excuse he has this time.

The performance is key even if we end up with our traditional defeat (Goodison and first match of the season).

highfield49 added 11:25 - Aug 13
Maybe a bit of overreaction but I'd like to see a team sheet with Forster in goal and Lewis on the bench. Increasingly hard for me to see what benefit McCarthy can offer to the team.

underweststand added 13:59 - Aug 13
Although the opposition in this competition are L1/ L2 clubs, our lads (usually teenagers and B teamers) have had few successes in the past which goes to show the difference in level between the Academy sides and the " Mens football " played in the lower divisions.

It will be a good test for up-and-coming players who have come through the Academy.
Quite a number of lads have left in the summer and the new signings from Chelsea will hopefully "spice-up " the side and we may get some goals and a win or two.

saintmark1976 added 18:14 - Aug 13
I’ve no idea who will play Nick. However, I can tell you that we will be without our leading goal scorer for the last three seasons together with a centre half who played very well for Norway at International level recently and a left back who has a Champions League winners medal. That’s probably why we are now 7/2 from 9/2 to be relegated.

saintmark1976 added 18:37 - Aug 13
Brain fade. I meant Denmark not Norway for Vestergard.

KriSaint added 11:23 - Aug 14
The 22-players squad I expect to be on the bus to Goodison and my suggested starting 11.


KWP, Jan B, Salisu, Perraud
Oriol, JWP
Armstrong, Djenepo
Adams, Tella

Bench picked from:

A. Armstrong
Valery, Redmond, Obafemi, Broja or Long

JimmyMeliaPhD added 14:10 - Aug 14
Ralph starts the season as he spent last season--making strange team selections. McC, Livramento, Stephens, Salisu, Perraud, JWP, Romeu, Walcott, Djenepo, A.Armstrong, Adams.
At least Redmond isn't starting, but this definitely looks dodgey to me.

aceofthebase added 14:18 - Aug 14
Is this one of those daft team selections which RH changes at half time and gets called a good manager. I'm deeply worried about his selections but hey ho let the roller coaster begin.

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