Everton have been labelled 6/4 favourites to beat Southampton as The Toffees continue to keep the pressure on the top four as they search for a spot in next season’s Champions League.
Nearly a decade on from their brief flirtation with Europe’s highest club competition, Everton know that they will need to beat a strong Southampton side if they are to once again reach the Champions League.
Everton currently find themselves one place off the top four and a win in the early kick-off would temporarily put them fourth until Arsenal play Newcastle on Monday night.
Roberto Martinez will be down to the bare bones in his backline for the trip to the South Coast as Sylvain Distin is out with a hamstring injury leaving John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz as the only fit centre-backs.
In-form Belgian attacker Kevin Mirallas also joins the steadily increasing injury list as a groin injury has put even more pressure on The Toffees to deliver in their remaining three games.
If Everton are to emerge unscathed from St Mary’s, they will no doubt be relying on their stellar defensive record having kept three clean sheets in their last four games.
It won’t be easy though as they are facing a Southampton side who have passed all expectations this season currently sitting in eighth with only a handful of games remaining.
The big absence in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad will be that of Morgan Schneiderlin as the Frenchman picked up a thigh injury in training but failed to recover in time for the Everton clash.
Schneiderlin isn’t the only absentee in the Southampton attack as both Jay Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez are also absent with long-term injuries that have effectively ended their seasons.
Although Everton provide a formidable opponent for The Saints, the home side have a good record against The Toffees on home turf losing just once in their last twelve games.
Saturday’s lunchtime clash will no doubt provide Everton with a stern test and Southampton will certainly not be doing the visitors any favours as the season winds down.