Everton’s trip to St Mary’s is one that Southampton fans should cherish, for it is one of the few remaining matches this season they’ll play on a Saturday before their Europa League excursions begin in earnest.
Untelevised mid-Sunday afternoon outings are what Saints must get used to over the next couple of months (assuming they see off Denmark’s Midtjylland in the final pre-group-stage qualifier) a disruption that sent their next adversaries’ 2014/15 campaign spiraling off the rails.
Making the most of what will be a rare Saturday at the coalface is vital for Ronald Koeman’s side and the bookies seem to think they’ll do just that.
They make Southampton 95/100 favourites for victory, with Everton weighing in at sizeable 11/4 underdogs, leaving the draw a 12/5 halfway house.
The odds compiler’s sentiments are ones the news.bwin.com tipsters are inclined to agree with, though we’re looking beyond the match-betting offerings in favour of a home win to nil wager, which pays a princely 21/10.
Southampton were formidable on the homestead for large parts of last season, namely at the start and end.
They’re one from one at St Mary’s this time around, seeing off Vitesse Arnhem, regular net bulgers on the road, without concession.
This result followed four home wins from five to sign off on the previous edition.
Of these, three came in flawless fashion, while the other saw only a consolation strike shipped in the 6-1 demolition of Aston Villa.
That aside, Charlie Austin was the only other representative of a side to finish in last season’s bottom half to bag at St Mary’s, doing so in his QPR side’s 2-1 reverse back in September.
Clearly, an elite line-leader is required to smash Saints’ concrete backline and, while Everton no doubt possess one in Romelu Lukaku, their chief goal threat is still scrabbling around in search of his best form.
Taking penalties out of the equation, the Belgian behemoth has found a Premier League net just once since January.
Roberto Martinez was forced to rely upon last resort hitman Arouna Kone to pull his side from the soup against Watford last time out and, with Everton looking to snap a three-match scoreless streak at this south coast venue, the Spaniard will need Lukaku on song to prevent another loss to nil.