Everton punish sloppy Saints
Everton 3 Southampton 1: Southampton's charming naivety is once again exposed by David Moyes' vibrant side
Everton, the notoriously sluggish starters, are absolutely flying, with the most points they have ever accumulated at this stage of a Premier League season, matching the total of 2004. That year, of course, culminated in Champions' League qualification. And they have managed this supreme points haul with an exuberant front four that will cause much better teams than Southampton a great deal of hassle.
Fighting back from a goal down, David Moyes' side exuded complete control of the game for over an hour, but were gifted the points by shambolic defensive organisation. "I was probably due a good start!" Moyes laughed afterwards. "We're able to play in different ways now. Watching Everton you would say we look more likely to score. There was a piece of action every minute and it was great theatre. We maybe could have scored more," before labelling the top four as the club's aim this campaign.
On this evidence that looks eminently achievable but before all the Everton adoration Southampton, clearly buoyant following their 4-1 win against Aston Villa last Saturday, started with the confidence to suppress their hosts by pressing in good areas and quickly launching counter attacks.
It often started from their centre-halves. Maya Yoshida won possession far too easily before sauntering forward into the Everton final third. From the next phase of play, they forced a corner which Adam Lallana whipped in and as Tim Howard flapped. The unmarked Gaston Ramirez nodded into an empty net.
Tails up, and Toffees down, it should have been 2-0 moments later. James Ward-Prowse's hopeful forward pass caught out John Heitinga, who was too slow to catch Jay Rodriquez, but the striker sliced wide.
The tide turned in the 24th minute, however, seconds before Everton equalised. Phil Neville collected a ball midway inside his own half, bereft of ideas or options. Goodison Park howled, which acted to give their team impetus. Saints' pressing was eventually their undoing. After a string of passes, Kevin Mirallas' cross found Leon Osman who thrashed it in. The sense of relief, soon turned into urgency.
Goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga strayed too far beyond his near post, gallingly widening Nikica Jelavic's aim, to gift Everton the lead. They were now up against it.
When Seamus Coleman glided past the napping Lallana and then Nathaniel Clyne, it became clear just what Nigel Adkins is up against this season, particularly away from St Mary's. Exciting on the ball, brilliant going forward, but his side is not defensively-inclined. Coleman picked out Jelavic to score his second.
Southampton defending is something that will be talked about for hours over the course of the next eight months. They have now conceded 12 goals on their travels and it could have been more here. They lack steel in midfield – the cultured Steven Davis was the holder – and were playing their third different back four in as many games. Marounae Fellaini hit the bar and Jelavic went close to a hat-trick in a fashion that was all too easy. "One Nigel Adkins" rang out from the away end, but their manager must accept part of the blame.
"We've come away from home with a desire to win. We took the game to Everton but that spell before half-time we were far too open," he said. "You should always be positive and look to win games. I believe we play good passing football, but we are shipping far too many goals. It's something we're addressing."
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines; Osman (Distin, 90), Neville; Mirallas (Oviedo, 79), Fellaini, Pienaar; Jelavic (Anichebe, 75).
Southampton (4-1-2-1-2): Gazzaniga; Richardson (Reeves, 80), Yoshida, Fonte, Clyne; S Davis; Ward-Prowse,
Lallana (Chaplow, 89); Ramirez; Lambert, Rodriguez
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the match: Fellaini (Everton)
Match rating: 7/10
With the top nine players in the men’s world tennis rankings all missing this tournament to prepare ...
by Gareth Purnell
21 May 2013 02:01 AM
When cyclists look back on their careers spanning many hundreds (and in some cases possibly thousand...
by Martin Ayres
20 May 2013 06:12 PM
As England’s new football strip – made by Nike – is revealed today, new research shows the English F...
by Alex Miller
20 May 2013 04:52 PM
Why Spurs will break the bank to keep Gareth Bale this summer
Jose Mourinho clear to rejoin Chelsea as departure clears the way for Real Madrid to move for Gareth Bale to become Cristiano Ronaldo's successor
Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
Manchester City begin to rebuild and rebrand for future
Why Arsène Wenger must spend to put icing on the cake and buy likes of Stevan Jovetic for Arsenal
- 1 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 2 Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
- 3 Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
- 4 Be more professional! GCHQ staff rapped as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reveals messages that he says point to 'fit up'
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.