Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Premier League meeting between Everton
at Goodison Park. The Saints kept their survival hopes alive with a 2-1 win
over Bournemouth last weekend and could - as things stand with results elsewhere this afternoon - climb out of the dropzone
with victory in the North-West.
All focus is very much on the Saints in the day's late kickoff, as the Toffees are left with very little to play for on the face of it. Finishing seventh, and therefore booking a place in the Europa League as they did this season, is still a possibility, although for that to happen they have to win their next two games and hope that Burnley lose theirs. Oh, and there is the small matter of a 15-goal swing being required...
EVERTON TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Pickford; Baines, Keane, Jagielka, Coleman; Schneiderlin, Gueye, Davies; Bolasie, Tosun, Vlasic
SUBS: Robles, Kenny, Martina, Funes Mori, Klaassen, Baningime, Niasse
Starting with a look at the home team, Sam Allardyce
has made two changes on the back of the 2-0 win at Huddersfield Town last weekend. Yannick Bolasie and Tom Davies
are restored to the starting lineup, with Theo Walcott missing out on selection against his former club and Wayne Rooney also absent from the matchday squad. With those two players absent, Davy Klaassen is named among the subs.
Davies did well from the bench at the John Smith's Stadium and is rewarded with a start alongside an ever-improving Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye. I initially had this down as a 4-2-3-1, but it looks like being a 4-3-3 with Cenk Tosun, Nikola Vlasic and Bolasie used in the frontline. Tosun has done pretty well since adapting to English football, boasting a respectable five goals in 12 league outings.
The most recent of Tosun's goals came in the 2-0 win at Huddersfield to keep his side's end-of-season momentum going. Elsewhere, the defensive unit remains unchanged - Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman at full-back, Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka in the centre. As well as being without Rooney and Walcott, there is also no Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Mason Holgate for Everton today.
SOUTHAMPTON TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: McCarthy; Bednarek, Yoshida, Hoedt; Cedric, Romeu, Lemina, Bertrand; Tadic, Austin, Hojbjerg
SUBS: Forster, McQueen, Stephens, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Gabbiadini, Long
Switching focus to the relegation-threatened visitors now, Mark Hughes
has made just the one change from last weekend's much-needed 2-1 home win against Bournemouth. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been brought in for Nathan Redmond
, seemingly slotting in alongside Charlie Austin and Dusan Tadic in the frontline. Hughes has once again opted to go with a three-man backline.
Austin has scored in both of his previous Premier League meetings with Everton during his time at Southampton, netting three times in total. Plenty of focus on the striker this evening with the Saints needing to score, while Manolo Gabbiadini, Shane Long and Redmond are all among the back-up options. Ryan Bertrand and Cedric Soares retain their places in the wing-back slots.
Sofiane Boufal has been completely frozen out by Hughes following a falling out a few weeks back and appears to have played his last game for the club this term at least. There is also no Steven Davis in the Saints' squad as he continues to struggle with an Achilles injury that is expected to keep him out for the rest of 2017-18, which admittedly only has one week left to run.
Mark Hughes has brought in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg for Nathan Redmond in Southampton's only change from the 2-1 win over Bournemouth, while Tom Davies and Yannick Bolasie take over from Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott for Everton. Dusan Tadic netted twice in the Saints' last outing and has now played a direct part in nine league goals this term.
Southampton started the day 18th in the Premier League table, just one point adrift of Swansea City with three matches left to play. Well the full-time whistle has sounded on each of the day's 3pm kickoffs, as well as the lunchtime clash between Stoke City and Crystal Palace, and it is fair to say that it has so far been a good day for the Saints. The headline news is that Stoke have been relegated and Swansea lost 1-0 to Bournemouth.
Hughes's men will therefore climb out of the dropzone with a point this evening thanks to their superior goal difference compared to Swansea's, but three points is the target for the visitors. That offers a huge incentive heading into this late kickoff, with Hughes originally arguing that Swansea and Stoke had an unfair advantage due to kicking off earlier in the day.
There is news of another big result to bring you from the bottom of the table, too, as West Bromwich Albion have continued their remarkable turnaround in form under Darren Moore by beating Tottenham Hotspur 1-0. That leaves the Baggies two points from safety with a game to go - if they stay up it really would be the most incredible great escape in Premier League history, eclipsing their achievement from a decade ago.
So after five matches up and down the country already played, the big news is that Stoke City are down and West Bromwich Albion live to fight another day. Southampton will no doubt have been following the earlier matches and know that they could end the day outside of the bottom three with a positive result on Merseyside. It also sets us up perfectly for what should be a thrilling clash between the Saints and Swansea on Tuesday night.
Huddersfield Town are the other side under threat of going down, as they have an extremely tough run of fixtures to see out the campaign, begging with a trip to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon. Following their trips to Everton and Swansea over the next few days, Southampton then welcome the Citizens to St Mary's Stadium in a little over a week's time - that can surely be marked down as a defeat.
It is worth pointing out that Swansea round off their season with a home match against already-relegated Stoke, meaning that three points are surely a must for the Saints this evening if they are to beat the drop. All of this is possible thanks to a 2-1 win over south-coast rivals Bournemouth for Hughes's men last weekend, coming on the back of a stalemate at Leicester City.
Tadic was at the double seven days ago to make it four points from a possible six, and that has to become seven from nine this evening. It was just the Saints' sixth win all campaign and a first for Hughes at the seventh attempt since taking charge. Four points from six certainly sounds like a decent return, although going further back it is only six from a possible 27.
That explains why Southampton are in such a mess, even accounting for the win at home to Bournemouth. Yet, incredibly, with just 32 points after 35 games, the Saints still have a serious chance of staying in the top flight. Following a first win in nine attempts, the south coast side are now attempting to make it back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time since April 2017.
Southampton had 10 points more than their current tally this time 12 months ago when finishing eighth, which is the position Everton currently occupy. The decision to part company with Claude Puel now appears a strange one, even if the Frenchman has struggled in recent weeks with new club Leicester City, while the appointment of Mauricio Pellegrino also failed to pay off.
Mark Hughes picked up his first Premier League win in charge of Southampton last weekend at the seventh attempt, seeing his side overcome Bournemouth 2-1 at St Mary's Stadium through a Dusan Tadic brace. Back-to-back victories for the first time in more than a year is now on the agenda, although a point would also take them out of the relegation zone.
Everton remain eighth in the Premier League table on 48 points following today's other matches, six behind Burnley and four in front of Leicester City. It seems highly likely that the Toffees will finish the campaign in their current position, then, which would ultimately be a good achievement for Allardyce considering that the club were 18th when they appointed him at the end of November.
The Toffees have won back-to-back matches, seeing off Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town home and away respectively, and they are on a four-match unbeaten run. That has helped to ease the pressure on Allardyce, who now appears likely to stay on - certainly if the hints he is dropping in his press conferences are anything to go by. Not sure supporters will be too pleased about that, mind!
Had Allardyce been handed a short-term contract until the end of the season, he would have bowed out with a hero's applause. As it is, supporters cannot bring themselves to imagine another campaign of bland football, although that view has no doubt altered somewhat thanks to six points being taken from the last two matches. The mood, it is fair to say, was a lot different after losing three games on the spin two months ago.
Everton are the only side that can still catch Burnley in seventh, but they require two wins from two and must hope that the Clarets lose their final two matches, on top of a goal swing of 15 goals. With West Ham United away to follow up this home match against a struggling Saints side, there is every chance that the Toffees could end the season with four successive wins.
The Toffees have not won three consecutive games all season, however, and have only actually managed back-to-back wins on a few separate occasions. Whichever way you look at it, 14 points from their last seven matches is a lot better and does give a little hope of better things to come in 2018-19, whether under Allardyce, Marco Silva, Paulo Fonseca or someone else. Much like this season, seventh place will be the target next time around.
DID YOU KNOW? All 13 of Everton's wins this season have come against teams below them in the Premier League table. The Toffees have all too often rolled over against the big boys - losses to Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester City since the turn of the year alone spring to mind - and they must improve on that if they are to enjoy a more successful 2018-19.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Southampton have won just once at Everton in the Premier League era - back in November 1997, drawing four and losing seven during that barren run. The Toffees won this corresponding fixture 3-0 last season, with all three goals coming in the final 17 minutes, but they were beaten 4-1 in the reverse match earlier this term.
With kickoff now less than five minutes away at Goodison Park, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.
Sam Allardyce: "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]."
Mark Hughes: "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."
Allardyce has praised his players for remaining focused in the closing stages of the campaign, and their reward could yet be a place in the Europa League - stranger things have happened! The Toffees, incidentally, have won their final match of the season at Goodison Park in nine of the last 11 years. Can they keep that run going here? We are about to find out...
KICKOFF! Southampton, in the traditional red and white home strip this evening, get us up and running on Merseyside. A weaker-than-anticipated Everton XI on display today, which has just 11 league goals between each of the players combined this term.
The first shot of the contest is fired in by Tom Davies, whose shot from 22 yards was always drifting wide of the target - Alex McCarthy was happy to watch that one sail past. Still, that is an early warning sign for the visitors.
Bertrand with a ball in from the left which was badly overhit. No real rhythm to the match in the opening five minutes, but it is still early days. The Saints will look to get Dusan Tadic on the ball as often as possible following his brace last week.
It will be interesting to see whether Hughes opts to stick or twist should the match remain goalless with half an hour or so to play. Fingers crossed for a goal or two before then, but at the moment it is all very quiet at Goodison Park.
Tadic with an attempted through-ball that only succeeded in running through for Pickford to collect. Austin was the man chasing is down but he could not get on the end of it on this occasion, as the Saints look to go direct.
Southampton, with two wins in their last 22 Premier League outings, now being allowed to knock the ball around and carry it forward. All very comfortable for Everton to deal with at the moment, however - not enough runs in behind.
Cenk Tosun with his first sight of goal, meeting a cross from the right with a header that he failed to make proper contact with. The ball flew over the crossbar and Saints keeper Alex McCarthy was happy to watch it on its way.
A slow start at Goodison Park to say the least. A similar story that the match from earlier today at the bet365 Stadium, which did liven up slightly and led to Stoke City being relegated to the Championship. Will the Saints join them over the next week?
Hojbjerg thought he was in behind but the offside flag was, perhaps incorrectly, raised on the far side. Neither side able to grab this match by the scruff of the neck yet, as we await the first chance or shot of any note.
Everton wayward with each of their efforts so far; at least they are managing to get some shots in, though, as Southampton have not put together any serious attacking moves. Nearly a quarter of this bland match has now been played.
SAVE! Tosun was somehow allowed to bring down Baines's punt forward towards the left-hand touchline but the Toffees' attack soon broke down. Lemina showed good work off the ball to force Coleman into an error to turn possession over. Austin's shot is turned aside by Pickford.
A cross from the left appeared to be flicked on by a Southampton player and out of play. Cenk Tosun was happy to watch it go out but the referee instead awarded a goal kick to the Saints, leaving the striker quite clearly frustrated.
Baines miscues a simple pass up the line and home fans are now starting to groan. The quality of this match has been pretty shocking thus far. Remember, though, the onus is on Southampton to score - a point will surely not be enough for them.
SAVE! Second save of the match for Jordan Pickford, who could only parry Oriol Romeu's drilled effort from the edge of the box. The Saints finally showing some attacking intent now - can they sustain it?
I was going to criticise Pickford for parrying the ball into a dangerous zone from that Romeu shot, but replays show that the ball took a deflection on its way through. A good stop for the young Englishman to add to his collection.
More than half an hour of the game played and Southampton have edged things here. The Saints have controlled possession throughout and have now managed to get a couple of shots away on goal, both of which Pickford was equal to.
Hughes has just sent out a few of his attacking players to warm-up, but it is unlikely that we will see a change before the break. Southampton have done OK so far but need to show a little more impetus in the final third of the pitch.
Great take from Saints stopper Alex McCarthy, who watched the right-sided cross all the way and collects with both hands before Cenk Tosun could pounce. The Saints have seen 60% of the ball in the opening 35 minutes of the match.
Mario Lemina takes out Seamus Coleman from behind and is rightly penalised by the referee. Leighton Baines stands over the ball and sends it into the middle, where Alex McCarthy is once again well positioned to collect.
A case of same old for Everton this evening - they have offered so very little in the final third and have been second best. Not an awful lot in it, truth be told, and we can only hope for a more entertaining second half on Merseyside.
Southampton are slowly building some momentum and are certainly the more likely to net the game's opening goal. Charlie Austin denied the chance of getting a shot away due to some good defending from the home side.
Nathan Redmond appears to be discussing tactics with assistant manager Mark Bowen and he could be turned to shortly because Mario Lemina has picked up an injury. Not sure if the Gabonese midfielder will be OK to continue.
YELLOW CARD! Charlie Austin becomes the first player to be shown a yellow card for his rugby tackle on Seamus Coleman. Another straightforward decision for man in the middle Jon Moss to make. Half time now fast approaching.
HALF TIME: EVERTON 0-0 SOUTHAMPTON
The half time whistle is blown by Jonathan Moss, bringing an end to a forgettable opening 45 minutes. Just a couple of efforts from both sides combined, both of which Jordan Pickford was able to deal with in the Everton goal.
Everton made a couple of enforced changes for their final home match of the season due to knocks sustained by Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney, the latter of whom requires a scan to determine the extent of the damage. Just one alteration was made by the Saints meanwhile, bringing in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg for Nathan Redmond, and it was the Saints who just about edged things in the first half.
Jordan Pickford was the busier of the two keepers, producing saves to keep out Charlie Austin's 20-yard strike across goal and Oriol Romeu's deflected drive from the edge of the box. That aside, however, openings proved to be hard to come by at both ends of the field in a forgettable first half on Merseyside.
Mario Lemina picked up an injury towards the end of the first half and may well have to be replaced, with Nathan Redmond the player who was seemingly being readied to come on before the referee blew for half time. Sam Allardyce, too, may be tempted to turn to his bench at the midway point.
EVERTON SUBS: Robles, Kenny, Martina, Funes Mori, Klaassen, Baningime, Niasse
SOUTHAMPTON SUBS: Forster, McQueen, Stephens, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Gabbiadini, Long
RESTART! We are back under way at Goodison Park, where both managers have made a change. Ramiro Funes Mori is on for Yannick Bolasie in a change of shape for the Toffees, while Nathan Redmond has indeed replaced Mario Lemina.
Everton appear to have more control of the match now thanks to the change of formation but they are still lacking when it comes to intensity. The big question remains whether a point is a good result for Southampton heading into the final week.
England boss Gareth Southgate is in attendance at Goodison Park this evening. Pickford's saves in the first half would have pleased him but the quality of this match not so. Expect another change or two when we reach the hour mark.
Michael Keane with a risk backpass to his goalkeeper, which Jordan Pickford managed to get to before Charlie Austin. Everton are trying their best to get a foothold on the match without actually managing to do so.
YELLOW CARD! Oriol Romeu with a tactical foul on Cenk Tosun to earn his 10th caution of the campaign. Leighton Baines swings the ball into the box but nobody in blue was able to meet it, with Michael Keane losing his footing.
GOAL! EVERTON 0-1 SOUTHAMPTON (NATHAN REDMOND)
A huge moment as far as the relegation battle is concerned because Nathan Redmond, brought on at half time, ghosts in at the back post to head Cedric Soares's cross through the legs of Jordan Pickford. Finally, a moment of quality!
That, incredibly, is Redmond's first goal in close to a year. Southampton have been the more positive side this evening and will argue that they deserved that breakthrough goal, which lifts them up to 18th place in the table.
An hour played at Goodison Park and now Everton have to step things up. Sam Allardyce responded to the setback by bringing on Oumar Niasse for the ineffective Nikola Vlasic, leaving him with just one substitution available to make.
One attempt on target in this second half and one goal - as efficient as you like from Southampton. More and more groans around Goodison Park from supporters who have grown frustrated by their side's lack of attacking quality.
Niasse has certainly helped improved things since coming on. The striker did well to chip the ball towards Cenk Tosun, who could not quite get his head to it. Two men up top now and we can surely expect a bombardment from the home side.
Southampton no longer in control of the match, but they are not under too much pressure, either. There are now a little over 20 minutes left to play and, as things stand, this result will relegate West Bromwich Albion to the Championship.
Nathan Redmond's cross towards the near post was an awkward one. Jordan Pickford looked as though he would have got to it but Phil Jagielka was taking no chances and helped it behind for a corner, which Dusan Tadic will take.
Dusan Tadic was due due to take the corner but his number is up and James Ward-Prowse is on in his place. After clearing the corner, Maya Yoshida
caught Ramiro Funes Mori a little late and was cautioned.
Everton probing away now, enjoying one of their best spells of the match. Still, it says a lot that one of their best spells of the match ends without a shot being fired away, with Alex McCarthy having so little to do this evening.
Southampton at risk of 'doing a Stoke' here by dropping too deep. Gaps opening up at the other end, however, which Redmond looks to make full use of by charging towards the opposition box. Once he got there he neither shot nor pick out a teammate.
SOUTHAMPTON SUB! A third and final change for Southampton, as Shane Long comes on for Charlie Austin. Fresh legs up top for the visiting sides and a player who is an expert at running down the channels, offering the perfect out-ball.
EVERTON SUB! Everton fans can be forgiven for double-taking as Davy Klaassen is on for his first Premier League appearance since September, taking over from Phil Jagielka. Schneiderlin booked for a cynical trip.
We are now into the final 10 minutes and, it must be said, Southampton are looking pretty comfortable now. That could change as Coleman has just been fouled high up the pitch and a cross will now come into the opposition box.
SHOT! Nathan Redmond is the biggest threat on the field, using his fresh legs to drive at the opposition box and then getting a shot away, which was always rising over the bar. The Toffees do not look like scoring.
RED CARD! Maya Yoshida takes out Idrissa Gueye and is shown his second yellow card of the season, meaning that Southampton will see out the remainder of this match with 10 men. Prior to that, Ward-Prowse tested Pickford from a free kick.
Not sure Hughes was expecting things to be this easy. Everton now have a man advantage but they are still struggling to create anything, as they head to a rare home defeat under Allardyce - only Man United and Man City have won here.
We are into the final minute of normal time at Goodison Park, where Southampton are on the brink of a truly huge victory. From 18th up to 16th and with Swansea City to come in midweek - for the first time in weeks their fate is now in their hands.
Just a few more minutes for Southampton to see through here. Don't want to curse the Saints, but they have never once looked like conceding today and you have to fancy the Saints to beat the drop on the basis of their last two results.
SAVE! McCarthy produces a superb save to help Baines's free kick over the bar. That would have been the cruellest of twists but there is still a corner kick to come. West Brom may be given yet another survival lifeline...
GOAL! EVERTON 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON (TOM DAVIES)
Unbelievable! Tom Davies's weak attempt takes a wicked deflection off Wesley Hoedt
and leaves Alex McCarthy wrong-footed. Hard to put into words just how big that goal is at the bottom of the Premier League, coming six minutes into added time.
FULL TIME: EVERTON 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON
What an incredible twist that was right at the end of the game! Despite being denied back-to-back wins for the first time this season right at the end, Southampton still climb out of the Premier League dropzone on goal difference. Next up is a trip to Swansea City, who sit directly below them.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events at Goodison Park. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
, while reaction will be available elsewhere on the site in due course. Thanks for joining!