Everton Focus – Southampton changes leave Toffees in the unknown

David Moyes has insisted that the managerial reshuffle at Everton’s Monday opponents Southampton will not change his side’s approach to the Premier League fixture, but it at least adds an air of uncertainty to the game that could work out well for the Toffees, or throw a spanner into the works.

Moyes told the official Everton website that it was business as usual as far as he was concerned, stressing that he saw the new man in charge on the south coast, Mauricio Pochettino, in his former position at Espanyol.

The manager’s comments suggest he expects Pochettino to imprint his own style upon Southampton but that will take time, which, having only been appointed on Friday, he has not yet had. The result could be a mish-mash of what Nigel Adkins had previously advised his players and Pochettino’s tweaks, potentially breeding uncertainty to go with what is likely to be an unhappy atmosphere at St. Mary’s.

Everton should be well placed to capitalise, if that proves to be the case. Not only is Moyes an example of the benefits of stability in the dugout, but Moyes’ team shows the importance of consistency in selection. Everton’s most dangerous attacking weapon, the relationship between Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines, was borne through the familiarity of the players with each other.

Meanwhile, Marouane Fellaini, having in the past gone from playing as a holding player, the defensive screen in front of the back four, to a makeshift striker, has flourished over the last 12 months or so after Moyes committed to using the Belgian behind a lone striker. Fellaini has only rarely played elsewhere since then and the results are obvious.

If Pochettino has spent the weekend boning up on Everton, however, or if Southampton’s players use any sense of injustice at Adkins’ sacking as a motivating factor, then Everton could be in for a tricky night. Concentration has to be Everton’s watchword.

Moyes may have rejected the notion that Everton will not know what to expect from Pochettino’s version of the Saints but any homework done on Adkins’ last few games in charge now has to carry a question mark, at the very least. At Goodison Park Southampton lined up in something approaching a 4-3-3 formation – perhaps Adkins was planning the same again.

Pochettino may go with what his predecessor had in mind for this one game, due to the quick turnaround between his confirmation as manager and the match. Predicting how the Argentine has Southampton set out, both in terms of shape and in terms of personnel, is nigh on impossible, with too many possibilities and too many variables.

Everton then can only focus on their own game, specifically recording a consecutive clean sheets for the first time this season and getting back on the score sheet after the goalless draw with Swansea City last time out. Piling on the unrest at Southampton by coming back to Merseyside with three points would also see Everton’s Champions League challenge kept alive.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Southampton v Everton

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