Southampton vs Everton predictions: Blues to maintain uplift in form
Everton will look to build on their most complete performance of the season when they travel to St Mary's to take on an out-of-form Southampton side on Saturday afternoon.
The two clubs sit next to each other in the Premier League table, both on seven points, but appear to be travelling in different directions.
Everton are on the up and are currently enjoying their longest unbeaten spell in the league under Frank Lampard - a run that was extended to five games after a 1-0 home win over West Ham last time out.
The Saints have moved in the opposite direction recently, losing three of four and failing to score in each of those defeats to slip into dangerous territory, as they are just three points above the relegation zone.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is expected to shake things up after venting his anger at a poor team display in the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa just before the international break.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles did not even make the squad at Villa Park, but could have a chance of lining up in midfield alongside captain James Ward-Prowse.
Samuel Edozie pushed his starting claims with a couple of recent goals for the England Under-20s and the teenage winger could replace either Mohamed Elyounoussi or Adam Armstrong in the line-up if Hasenhuttl is feeling bold.
Duje Caleta-Car still awaits his debut following a deadline day transfer, but the Saints boss is least likely to tinker with a defence that looks settled with Kyle Walker-Peters and Romain Perraud operating as full-backs.
Midfielder Romeo Lavia and right-back Valentino Livramento both remain sidelined because of respective muscle and ACL injuries.
The Toffees announced this week that Nathan Patterson will miss the next four to five weeks with the knee injury he picked up while playing for Scotland over the September international break.
Patterson, who is set to be replaced by Seamus Coleman at right back, adds to an Everton injury list that already includes Andros Townsend, Mason Holgate (both knee), Ben Godfrey (fractured fibula) and Yerry Mina (ankle).
Jordan Pickford is set to regain his spot as the Toffees' number one after recovering from a thigh injury, but Lampard was cautious when asked if the fit-again Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be involved in the squad this weekend.
Patterson has recorded the joint-second most successful tackles (28) and boasts the highest tackle success rate (82.4%) in the Premier League this season.
Everton's opponents have hit the woodwork more times than they scored goals against the Blues in the Premier League this season (seven woodwork hits, six goals).
The Toffees have lost seven of their past nine away league games against Southampton, winning two with no draws in that time.
After beating Chelsea 2-1 in their last home game, the Saints could record successive league victories at St Mary's for the first time since February, when they beat both Everton and Norwich 2-0.
Southampton have conceded the opening goal in more league games than any other side this season (6), each of which has come in the past six fixtures in the competition.
But Hasenhuttl's team have recovered the joint-most points from losing positions (7 with Tottenham) in the Premier League this season, only two fewer than they managed in all of 2021-22.
Southampton are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season, but Hasenhuttl has found a central defensive combination that looks solid enough to provide a platform with Armel Bella-Kotchap alongside Mohammed Salisu.
But scoring goals is, and will continue to be, a problem with the attacking personnel the Austrian has at his disposal.
The Saints have won 1.5 points per game when they have had less than 50% of the ball and zero points per game when they have had the majority of possession, so they will have to be much better against an Everton team likely to set up to play on the counter-attack.
The visitors have enough momentum to grab all three points on Saturday, but it may be a low-scoring affair with fewer than three goals in the game - just as all five of Everton's games on their current unbeaten run have been.