Everton host Southampton at Goodison Park this evening, with the game set to get underway at 5:30pm. Everton are eighth in the table, while Southampton are 18th.
Everton go into their final two games of the season with nothing to play for. They’re not going to qualify for the Europa League because they’re six points behind Burnley, while there’s no way they’ll go down. They could end up slipping behind Leicester, who are ninth and four points behind them, with a game in hand, but I wouldn’t imagine they’re too bothered by that. It’ll be interesting to see how their players play for the last couple of games since they’re just waiting for their holidays at this stage. They have been getting results in their last few games even without something to play for, so they could continue that.
Sam Allardyce won’t be letting these players take it easy and he’ll be at them to give their all. They need to keep turning up and putting good performances in. They definitely have the quality to win this game, but they could find it hard against a Southampton side that will battle for every ball.
Sam Allardyce said: “One thing you need to give the lads credit for is not switching off. They have achieved performances and results when there is no threat of relegation.
“To continue to win matches is always important. You have seem teams drop off before and that hasn’t happened [with us].”
Dominic Calvert-Lewin will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his back. Mason Holgate is back in training but is unlikely to feature.
This is an absolutely massive game for Southampton. They will move out of the bottom three with a win today, and they could – depending on how Swansea do against Bournemouth – move out of it even if they draw. They have to go all out for the win today and put a good performance in. There’s no excuses for them now. These players simply have to deliver and keep their club in the Premier League. It doesn’t matter how they do it, but they need a result today.
Of course, even if they are beaten they won’t be relegated yet, but it would certainly be a big blow to them. Depending on how Swansea do against Bournemouth, they may need a win. They’ll know what they have to do by the time they kick off. They travel to Wales to play the Swans on Tuesday night, so if they were to get a good result today and go there with a bit of momentum, it could be huge. They would also heap the pressure onto Swansea if they were to get a result. They have to play Man City on the final day, so they’ll be hopeful that they won’t need anything from that game. They need to win today and on Tuesday, while hoping Swansea drop points against Bournemouth today for that to happen.
It’s all in their own hands, and they don’t need to rely on other results going their way. Obviously, other results going their way would help, but at least they don’t have to pray for a miracle. They just have to go out there and win their games and they will be fine.
There’s no underestimating what last week’s 2-1 win against Bournemouth would have done for their confidence. That fantastic win would have given them a real boost, and they can kick on from that today. I think we’ll see a solid showing from them today, filled with plenty of effort and passion. They’ll be really up for this game – as they should be, there’s no excuses not to be – and I think they’ll get a result.
Mark Hughes said: “I don’t think we’ll fall into the trap of thinking that we got the job done last weekend [by beating Bournemouth] because we haven’t. Nowhere near it…
“For all the emotion that we saw and the fact we were able to at long last please our supporters, we have to do it again and we don’t want to disappoint our fans by losing at Everton.”
Steven Davis is still out with an Achilles injury. Sofiane Boufal is unlikely to be involved.
I think the Saints will win this game. They’ll be really up for it and will fight for every ball. They’ll be willing to work a lot harder than an Everton team who have nothing to play for, and I think that will show today. Saying that, Everton could just as easily put another good performance in and severely damage Southampton’s survival hopes. We’ll see how it goes.
The team news will be out at 4:30pm and that’ll be up here as well. Enjoy the game.