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FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Everton vs Southampton – ‘We are going to improve the quality of the squad, 100%’

On Thursday night Everton will come up against Southampton after an absolute dismal performance against Tottenham. Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti gave a damning statement in the press conference leading up to the game stating that himself and the board will be improving the squad. This will be alarming news for many of the squad because they will finally realise their awful performances are going to cost them. 

Throughout the campaign certain players have shown that they are not capable nor up to the challenge and it was on show for all to see yet again against Tottenham as a drab and boring game was decided by an own goal. The lack of quality in all areas was easy to see and it was evident more than ever that Ancelotti has got a massive job on his hands. 

Everton have been defensively sound and it is expected with Ancelotti’s renowned coaching methods but in attacking areas there does not seem to be any plan whatsoever with no fluidity or sustainability of pressure instead just consistent wasted opportunities to create openings. So, when Ancelotti says that they are going to improve the quality of the squad it will come as a relief to Evertonians. 

The attacking quality at the top of the pitch for Everton has been proved to be at the standard required though as Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have both gotten to double figures in goals this season but as of late they have struggled. The reason they have struggled can be blamed on the fact that the midfield simply does not create enough chances which was emphasised by the fact that centre back Yerry Mina was the only player to play a key pass in the first half against Tottenham and he only played for 15 minutes. 

Also, what the midfield lacks in attacking flair and creativity it certainly does not make up for in defensive work as the middle of the park has been dominated by the opposition in the majority of games since the restart. It is a problem, but it is a problem that Ancelotti may already be addressing with the likes of Allan from Napoli and James Rodriguez from Real Madrid being linked. 

Another problem position may be in goal for Everton. Jordan Pickford’s erratic manner is something which Ancelotti will not be a fan of as so many times it leads to vital mistakes that either cost Everton points or so nearly cost them which we have seen in the past two games. With Everton’s aspirations for the next few years being so high an inconsistent keeper who makes so many high-level mistakes is the last thing Everton need. 

All of the players still have five games left to try and prove themselves even if realistically their futures are away from the club. The next game will be a tough one however as Southampton have just had an incredible win in their last game against Manchester City. With Danny Ings having the season of his life having scored 18 goals the defence will have to be as alert as ever. 

Everton’s backline though will unfortunately be without Mason Holgate as he is still recovering from an injury he picked up against Spurs. He should be back for the Wolves game on the weekend Ancelotti said in his press conference. The Italian also confirmed that Theo Walcott will be available to play giving Everton some much needed pace from the start or off the bench. Fabian Delph looks set to miss out again whilst Djbril Sidibe ‘is not 100% but he is quite ready’ to start the game. 

Supporters will most likely want to see a much-changed starting line-up especially in midfield, but the likelihood is that there will not be too many changes as there is not enough options to pick from. The likes of Walcott, Gordon and Bernard may be brought in to try and refresh the team with some attacking intent. Even though Europe looks a little too far away now Everton’s chances of finishing a depressing 14th place are still relatively high as they are only two points away. So, a win will be the only acceptable result on Thursday night. 

Written by Elliot Thompson

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