Premier League preview: Southampton v Everton
By Football News
Everton harbour hopes of returning to the top four when they travel to take on Southampton at St Mary's on Monday.
The Toffees are right in the thick of the battle for Champions League football and trail fourth-placed Tottenham by only three points ahead of their home clash with Manchester United, who they have not defeated at White Hart Lane in 11 years.
David Moyes will know his side must continue to collect points away from home against sides such as Southampton if they are to make that a reality.
But the Saints are no longer the pushovers they were at the start of the season and will make for an entertaining game against arguably the most eye-catching side so far this season.
Not only is Nigel Adkins' side playing attractive football, but they are being rewarded for their enterprising play.
A run of 18 points from their past 11 Premier League games makes for good reading, particularly given they have only lost twice in that time.
After back-to-back promotions, Adkins appears to be finally laying the club's Premier League platform and has spruiked his credentials after a horror run of fixtures against the top sides to start the season.
Southampton will have been delighted to pick up a point at Chelsea on Wednesday in a 2-2 draw given they started the match without Rickie Lambert, Gaston Ramirez and captain Adam Lallana, trailed 2-0 at half-time, and were humbled 5-1 at St Mary's by the same side 11 days earlier.
Lallana is perhaps Southampton's most important player, but another set-back to his knee injury will likely see him ruled out until early February.
Everton have lost only three times this season and only once in their past nine games, scoring in all but one of their away fixtures.
Everton front man Nikica Jelavic has found the net only six times this season, with Premier League defences seemingly countering his notorious penchant for scoring 'one-touch' goals.
Southampton could not contain Everton's movement when the sides met at Goodison Park in September, with the home side running out 3-1 winners.
Everton's player of the season so far, Marouane Fellaini, was near unplayable on the day while Jelavic was on target twice in the first half.
However, Southampton were far more frail defensively earlier on in the season and Adkins will welcome Everton to St Mary's with greater confidence given his side's impressive form of late.