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Football News: Match preview: Everton v Southampton 18 August 2018

Match preview: Everton v Southampton 18 August 2018
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There's little point in dwelling on what happened last season or indeed any prior season as both teams have changed since then and so are likely to approach this with a clean slate.

Marco Silva has demonstrated his managerial and coaching skills at each club he has been involved with and his reputation is one of not only great promise but current ability. Everton are considered something of a sleeping giant in respect of their fanbase and their financial power and they have certainly flexed those muscles over the summer. They will need the fresh blood to gel quickly as a team and Silva has shown a real strength in achieving this very result in a short space of time. They will be a very tough opponent for most in the league this season.

Last weekend against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Everton dominated even when down to 10 men and were perhaps unfortunate not to take all three points. Surprisingly, Wolves sat back and allowed this to happen and so its difficult to draw much from this opening fixture. Everton's defence was never really tested as more often than not, Wolves lacked the quality in the final third to do much. That said, despite this lack of quality in attack and despite them sitting and playing with sterile possession, they still managed to score twice. If we look at Silva's previous teams in the Premier League, Hull and Watford, they scored a lot but they also conceded heavily. Everton's defence may prove a little more resilient in the long term but with Jagielka suspended, the defence will be make-shift and vulnerable if the game is taken to them. Richarlison will be buzzing after a brace on his debut and this will be his first home game so he'll need to be kept under wraps. It will be vital for our right back, right sided centre back and right sided midfielder to work as a defensive unit around him to curtail his impact on the game.

As for Southampton, our first game was shaky for the first hour or so. If we allow Everton to attack us as Burnley did, Everton have the added quality to convert into goals. The final half hour showed much attacking promise after the formation change and it would be nice to see the team approach this game with more attacking intent. It seems that for both sides, our strengths this season may lie in our attack rather than our defence. So relying on our defence would seem to play into Everton hands, but equally, playing too open could be just as harmful. Everton have pace and skill on the counter. We need to strike the right balance and take the game to them when we are in the ascendency, but defend in numbers when they are on top. Sounds easy.

I'd like to see Saints revert to a 4-3-3, or what would actually be more like a 4-2-3-1 in defence and a 3-3-4 when we attack. With the link up play shown by Ings, Redmond, Elyounoussi there is enough pace and ability to cause any back line a headache. Add someone like Armstrong into the mix if he recovers and you can see a destructive attacking line with players able to come deep and collect the ball, pulling the defence out and making space in behind for deep, attacking runs from midfield. It could be very exciting! But may take time for it to truly gel. I would love to see Mark Hughes just go for it in every game, knowing that it may not always work and we could be on the end of some poor results from time to time, but with the hope, no belief that it would work and more often than not, it will give us the best chance of beating teams. Tear up your caution Sparky and throw it into the wind.

Instead, I expect us to play the usual 5-3-2 Hughes has favoured over the majority of his games in charge, unless the switch to a back four in the last game has motivated a slight change of mind and we see a more orthodox 4-4-2. I don't think the back 3/ 5 has worked since the end of the summer and I don't believe we have the players suited to play a 4-4-2, but either formation suggests more defensive solidity than a gung-ho 4-3-3 as I have suggested above.

If Everton's weakness lies in their defence, it is likely that the team's they lose to most often will be the ones that take the game to them and but that back line under pressure, rather than those who invite them on. Southampton should be playing without the shackles of a relegation fight this early in the season and Mark Hughes has spoken of wanting his attackers to take risks, but as the man deciding the tactics and starting line-up, the onus is on him equally to be prepared to gamble. We'll be able to see over the next few games whether Sparky is a stick or twist kind of guy.

Written by figodasilva August 17 2018 13:38:19


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