Southampton will be determined to end their slump by beating Everton, a side they will side as one of their rivals for a place in the top four.
It has been a concerning few weeks for the Saints, who wasted an excellent chance to reach the last four of the Capital One Cup in the week, losing to League One Sheffield United and worst still, struggling to create many meaningful opportunities throughout.
That extended their run of defeats to five games, and with the fixtures not getting any easier over the festive period, they must remain strong if they are to keep their European hopes alive or slide to the extent that they become entrenched in mid-table for the rest of the campaign.
It was by no means a vintage performance, but Everton returned to form and leapfrogged Merseyside rivals Liverpool with victory over Queens Park Rangers on Monday, with the combative Muhamed Besic mightily impressive alongside local hero Ross Barkley in the midfield.
But they still seem a little off-colour compared to the standards they set last season, where Champions League football looked a distinct possibility until two own goals condemned them to losing on their last visit to the St. Mary’s Stadium back in April.
The hosts have a crisis in midfield with Jack Cork injured and Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama both suspended after picking up five yellow cards. Jay Rodriguez and Dusan Tadic miss out through injury.
Everton will be unable to call upon Kevin Mirallas after he was stretchered off against QPR, but James McCarthy and Leon Osman hope to play a part.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Southampton