St Mary's bow to be difficult for Pochettino - Betting Preview
Southampton's recent revival included last weekend's second win over Aston Villa this season, and an impressive comeback at Chelsea from 2-0 down to snatch a draw. For Nigel Adkins, it wasn't enough, and on Thursday, the silver haired manager lost his job, and was immediately replaced by young Argentinean boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Being that Pochettino had been 'researching the team for weeks', it seems as though the Saints' board had made up its mind before Christmas, but whilst there is havoc in the upper echelons of the club, the team seem to be playing themselves out of trouble. The form of their fellow strugglers have seen Southampton climb to 15th, but whilst the likes of Newcastle and Aston Villa continue to flail, Southampton's unbeaten run of five games wasn't good enough to save Adkins' job.
Coming up against Everton in his first match in charge, the former Espanyol boss will have to have his wits about him, as the Toffees have only lost one in their last ten. Whilst Everton's defence has toiled away from Goodison, having failed to keep a clean sheet in eight consecutive away games, their attack has mustered the most shots in the Premier League away from home, as well as seventeen strikes of the woodwork.
Leighton Baines adds an extra dimension to the Merseyside team as the attacks up the left, and as a free-kick specialist, the England international has scored a couple of great goals this season. Of course, Everton's attack is headed by Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic (5/4 anytime, 5/1 first), but it is Marouane Fellaini who leads the team in league goals.
The Belgian midfielder, renowned for his tough tackling as well as goal-scoring prowess, has often found himself in great positions this season, but has created many of his chances. Fellaini is 11/2 to score first, and 7/1 to grab a brace and will be vital to Everton success at St Mary's.
It was touched on before, but Southampton's form has seen their league position improve dramatically. In October, they looked destined for the drop, but a run of only two losses in twelve has seen the south coast team pull away from the danger zone. Whilst their defense still looks shaky at times, they possess the highest scoring English striker in the league in Rickie Lambert, whose rise through the league exemplifies the success that can come from hard work and determination can bring, especially in a league where a bulky physique can reap rewards.
The youth system at Southampton has been strong for years now, producing the talents of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and this season the development of James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw has been impressive. Shaw, who didn't put a foot wrong as Southampton held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw recently, will definitely be one to watch for the future, and could play an integral role as this team strives to maintain their Premier League status.
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- Everton have gone eight games in the league away from home without a clean sheet.
- The Toffees have lost just one of their last nine Premier League games away from home (W3 D5 L1).
- Nine of Everton's last 16 matches have ended as draws, while the other seven have all ended with a 2-1 scoreline.
- Everton have scored the highest percentage of first half goals in the top flight this season (57%, 20/35).
- 12 of Leighton Baines' 14 Premier League goals for Everton have come from dead ball situations (8 pens, 4 Free Kicks).
- Everton have hit the woodwork 17 times this season, more than any other team in the top flight.
- The Toffees have mustered more headers on target than any other team in the Premier League (33) and only Man Utd (12) have scored more headed goals than David Moyes' side (9).
- Marouane Fellaini has committed more fouls than any other player in this season's Premier League (50).
- Southampton have lost only two of their last 12 league games, after losing eight of the opening 10 this season.
- No Englishman has scored more Premier League goals than Rickie Lambert this season (10).
Headline Offers: Rickie Lambert to score and Southampton to win - 7/1; Marouane Fellaini to score and Everton to win - 4/1.
Best Bet: Both Teams to Score - Yes - 13/20
Worth a Punt: Double Result - Draw/Everton - 9/2; To come from behind and win or draw - Everton - 15/4