A tumultuous St. Mary's awaits Everton on Monday night with Southampton's sudden sacking of Nigel Adkins, and his replacement by Mauricio Pochettino.
Everton manager David Moyes expressed his surprise upon hearing Nigel Adkins' firing, saying "He'd got them out of the bottom three, and it looked as though they were moving up. I don't think many people would have been looking at Nigel Adkins as a manager about to be sacked. I thought he'd done a really good job." Moyes will have to ensure he keeps his team focused as the spotlight falls on new manager Mauricio Pochettino on Monday.
The news of Adkin's removal from his position has been greeted quite negatively among the Saints faithful, and it will be interesting to see if they mount a protest similar to the ones carried out by Chelsea fans enamored with Roberto di Matteo. Southampton had endured a rough start to the season but were finding their feet in recent times, unbeaten in five games and climbing away from the relegation zone. From the sounds of it, Pochettino had been scouted since December by the owners, and was immediately instated at St. Mary's.
Team News -
The Toffees will be refreshed after their long, nine-day break from football. However, none of the players from their injury list are ready to return as yet. Darron Gibson and Tony Hibbert are still out while Kevin Mirallas has resumed training.
Playmaker Adam Lallana is still out for the Saints while defender Jose Fonte will miss this game with a knee injury. Longtime Everton transfer target defender Vegard Forren signed for Southampton on Friday and could play.
Keys To The Game -
Everton should seize upon the uncertainty at St. Mary's by dominating the game early, and this could possibly lead to the Saints fans turning on the new man. Earlier in the season, Everton came back from 1-0 down at Goodison and took advantage of a young and inexperienced Saints' side to win 3-1. Moyes should be able to field the same starting eleven as last weekend against Swansea.
Strikers Ricky Lambert and Jay Rodriguez have been hitting their stride lately, and one can assume that Pocchetino will devise an attacking game plan playing at home. His time at Espanyol in Spain was marked by teams that played fast-paced, flowing football, and he will attempt to build the same in the South of England too.Left back Luke Shaw is also a rising star and a product of an excellent youth system in place at Southampton.
Match Facts -
- Everton are unbeaten against Southampton in their last six games.
- Monday's game will mark David Moyes' 499th in charge of Everton.
- Only Manchester City have more shots on target this season than Everton.
- After eight losses in their first ten games, the Saints have two losses in the last twelve.
- After a hot start, Marouane Fellaini has not scored in his last seven league games.
- The Toffees have scored more goals away (18) than at home (17) this season.