The Inside Track: Everton

By SFC Media Fri 25 Nov Saints vs Everton

Get the lowdown on this weekend's opponents Everton, from Liverpool Echo journalst Phil Kirkbride.

How would you sum up Everton's season so far?

Mixed. After an unbeaten start to the league campaign came to an abrupt halt just down the road from you in Bournemouth, Everton have offered a truer reflection of the job at hand for Koeman.
They are, to put it simply, a work-in-progress but results like the one at Chelsea recently, and the manner in which they toiled against Swansea City last weekend, strongly suggest major surgery of the squad is required rather than just tweaking.

What’s the current form and mood like?

Everton head to St Mary's having won just one of their last seven league games.
Most had hoped, and expected, that to have been a run of two wins in seven games but the Blues were poor against Swansea and only just managed to rescue a point.
The mood among the supporters is certainly more positive than it was last season, that's for sure, but the run has offered everyone a sobering reality check.
January is huge for Everton's season.

What sort of impact has Ronald Koeman had since taking over?

Initially, Ronald's impact was strong.
Everton were unbeaten in the league until September, they had improved markedly in defence and the players the manager did manage to bring in, clearly improved the team.
But the reaction Koeman provoked in the opening stages of the season has died down significantly and the Blues' form and been fittingly inconsistent since.
The hope for Everton fans is that the manager will be able to use all of his tactical acumen and motivational skill to drag the team through to the window where he hopes to improve the squad.

What’s the style of play and system been like this season?

Everton's default formation remains 4-2-3-1, as it was under Roberto Martinez, but Koeman has shown himself tactically flexible already this season.
The Blues have played three at the back, five at the back, 4-3-3 and a 4-4-2 diamond formation in the 12 league games he's been in charge.
He has made it clear that, unlike the previous manager, he is willing to change Everton's tactics to suit the needs of that particular game.
However, the inconsistent form of a number of Everton's players has left many to assume that he still doesn't know his best 11.

Which players have stood out this season and who do you see as being Everton’s key men on Sunday?

It will come as little surprise to hear that Romelu Lukaku is Everton's key man,
If Rom plays well then the team tend to follow.
But he needs service and in Yannick Bolasie, he has quickly forged a good understanding, one that needs to click if Everton are to get anything out of this game.
But Everton's midfield axis (assuming Ronald goes that way) of Gareth Barry and Idrissa Gueye are vital. Barry has been class since the day he joined and Gueye has taken everyone by surprise, the manager included, with how well he has played.

Related

Stat Pack: Southampton vs Everton
Højbjerg backs Sims to blossom
Saints vs Everton

Højbjerg backs Sims to blossom

Pierre Emile-Højbjerg on a memorable debut from winger Josh Sims

Mon 28 Nov
Video: Højbjerg on win over Everton We showed our solidarity, says Højbjerg
Family Lounge package for Boro still available
Saints vs Boro

Family Lounge package for Boro still available

Club Southampton's new Family Lounge package is still available for Sunday's game.

1 hour ago
Gallery: Getting set for Europa clash Video: Saints hard at work ahead of Hapoel