Saints’ recent form and injury to Everton’s Rodriguez make this an intriguing encounter
Everton to win 2-1
The part which James Rodriguez has played in Everton’s fantastic start to the season, rising to the top of the league ahead of local rivals Liverpool, has been nothing short of excellent.
By linking up once again with manager Carlo Ancelotti, the Colombian has shown his quality is as sharp as ever and has been a catalyst for improvement at the club. That’s why his injury this weekend will be unwelcome for The Toffees.
Their opponents have shown improvement of their own recently, bouncing back from defeats in their first two matches by winning two of their next three and earning a thrilling draw at Chelsea.
They’ve started to recover some of their form from last season, with top scorer Danny Ings once again finding his feet in front of goal.
This should be an entertaining match.
Form Guide (all comps): WLLDW
Reasons to be cheerful:
Confidence will be high after thrilling 3-3 draw at Chelsea
Danny Ings is showing top form once again
Reasons to be fearful:
One or two injury concerns to deal with
Opponents are the league’s form side
There will have been alarm bells ringing in manager Hasenhuttl’s ears after two defeats from their first two matches, going down tamely to Crystal Palace and Tottenham.
However, their recovery has reminded us of the Southampton of last season, playing good, attacking football and with Danny Ings scoring more often than not.
They will be delighted in how they fought back from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 against Chelsea last weekend, their manager showing tactical awareness by changing formation and playing more directly to change things around.
Ings now has four goals this season, with others like Adams and Vestergaard chipping in. Unfortunately, the Saints will have to do without winger Djenepo through injury.
Everton will be another tough fixture for them, but have injury problems of their own and this could be a good time to play them.
Star Man – Danny Ings
Who else? The England striker has to shoulder a heavy burden for the Saints, but seems to relish scoring goals.
Form Guide (all comps): WWWWD
Reasons to be cheerful
Calvert-Lewin is the league’s best player on form
Will have bags of confidence sitting at the top of the table
Reasons to be fearful
Injuries to Rodriguez and Richarlison are a big blow
Keeping clean sheets has been a problem
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping that his side can cope just fine without star players James Rodriguez and Richarlison, who have both performed excellently this season so far.
Unfortunately, it may not be quite so easy to do when they have been so critical to their success. Potential replacements, such as Bernard and Alex Iwobi are good, but not quite up to the same standard.
With Dominic Calvert-Lewin in such fine form, however, the chances are that Everton will still find their way to goal sure enough. The red-hot striker is already on 10 goals for the season and has forced his way into the England team.
If Aston Villa and Liverpool claim points before Everton play on Sunday, The Toffees could be sitting in third place, and it will be interesting to see how they react.
Star Man – Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Arguably as important to Everton as Ings is to Southampton, DCL is a goal-machine on current form
Either side keeping a clean sheet is very unlikely
Calvert-Lewin will fancy his chances of getting on the scoresheet
Two or more goals likely
Everton are still favourites to take three points from this game, despite two of their key players missing through injury.
Their system is flexible enough to allow replacements to come in and perform with the same enthusiasm as everyone else in the side.
As for Southampton, they must channel their comeback against Chelsea as inspiration for this one.
There has not been a clean sheet in this fixture on seven consecutive occasions now, and with the amount of goals scored already in the Premier League this season, that is unlikely to change.
Everton to win 2-1