Today sees Ronald Koeman return to familiar ground as he brings his Everton side to face Southampton at St Mary’s. The Dutchman spent two successful seasons on the South Coast delivering a Europa League place on both occasions, the task now is to do the same for his new employers.
Hosts Southampton are in the midst of a winless run right now with a failure to record a victory in their last four matches but that said Everton’s plight isn’t that much better with just the solitary win over the same period of matches. So I would imagine that Today could be a close run encounter.
Last weekend Claude Puel’s Southampton held title challengers Liverpool (or Southampton All Stars as they are otherwise known) to a no score draw and Today they will look to go one better against the other Merseyside opposition in the league.
Virgil Van Dijk earned the plaudits for shutting Liverpool out last weekend and he has been the bedrock of a defence which has only conceded 12 times this season but the problem is that they have only scored the exact same amount of goals at the other end. Forward reinforcements are certainly required in Janaury.
And you could probably say the same for Everton, obviously they have their talisman Romelu Lukaku but apart from that the forward options are very few and far between. The Belgian international could not only do with some support but someone to lessen the attacking burden at the club.
That burden had to be lifted by Right Back Seamus Coleman last week as The Toffees became unstuck against Swansea. His 89th minute equaliser salvaged a point but Ronald Koeman will look at that game as two points dropped as they lost further ground on the teams above them.
After such a good start to the season Ronald Koeman will be concerned at the clubs relative downturn in form. Then again you could argue that their start was probably better than even their own expectations and they have now reverted to type. But when you compare it to last season there can’t be too many complaints.
With Southampton not giving away much but not offering too much at the other end this might not be a particularly high scoring affair. The key will be whether or not Romelu Lukaku can unlock the Saints defence and more importantly get back in the goals after failing to score in his last two matches.
Although Southampton’s league placing doesn’t paint the best picture right now there is not a lot between them and Everton and I have a feeling that these two sides will cancel each other out this afternoon and have to make do with a share of the points. Not the happiest of returns for Koeman as his side only earns a draw.