Everton Home Won 2 – 0
The way Ralph’s team is playing, there’s no point in making any changes but Livramento had to be recalled to face Everton after Perraud’s positive Covid test; Walker-Peters moved to left back. Although Broja burst clear to test Pickford early on, most of the honours in the opening stages belonged to the visitors, until Saints began to grow into the game, while, just as markedly, Everton grew out of it. Ward-Prowse tested Pickford with a free kick but Livramento came closest to a goal before half time, he being denied by a point-blank save after Ward-Prowse either changed his corner technique, or (just as likely) got it fortuitously wrong. So no score at the break, but the ball was in Southampton’s net soon afterwards with Calvert-Lewin seeming to profit from some sloppy defending – which may be forgiven after replays showed four blue shirts offside as van der Beek’s cross came in. Allen was one more heavy tackle away from a dismissal so Frank Lampard took him out of the game at half time, but that seemed to leave his team without anyone who could tackle at all as Saints soon got on top again – and they finally took a deserved lead on 52 minutes with Elyounoussi, Romeu and Adams playing unspectacular but important parts in a move that ended with Stuart Armstrong shooting precisely just inside Pickford’s near post. With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that a single goal was comfortably enough as Everton failed to register a legal shot on target in the 90 minutes. Another Southampton goal was overdue and it should have come when Elyounoussi headed a free kick over because of pressure from another player – Salisu in fact, with no blue shirt in sight. Bringing on Long for Broja with fully ten minutes remaining didn’t seem the most positive move for a team well on top, but what do we know? Ralph was shown to have got it absolutely right when Long immediately found himself on the end of Livramento’s cross with only Coleman, and not a centre back, for company… and that headed goal was it for a surprisingly dismal Everton.
LSSC Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong, yes, for the goal. But Armstrong was already featuring in what was another long list of contenders, including Walker-Peters who was so effective going forward, despite continually having to cut inside onto his favoured right foot.