Defensively, Everton were at sixes and sevens last season and this is a big reason why Southampton finished in the sort of position that the Toffees had become accustomed to in the Premier League.
The steely Saints in seventh conceded only 33 times all season to finish with a goal difference of +21, while the leaky Toffees down in 11th shipped 50, to leave them in the red by two goals come the final standings.
Slates wiped clean, the two sides have both begun their current campaigns with 2-2 draws, albeit Everton’s point required a two-goal comeback at home to newly-promoted Watford, while Southampton earned a draw up at a revitalised Newcastle.
Obviously there have been a few personnel changes, but as Saints’ odds-on price for the home win indicates when the sides collide in Saturday lunchtime’s televised clash, Roberto Martinez still needs to shore up that porous backline.
Chelsea’s public courtship over bright defensive prospect John Stones and the injury to Leighton Baines are certainly adding to Martinez’s woes, though at least Ross Barkley has hit the ground running with his blistering strike against the Hornets.
Everton have plenty to offer going forward and when Baines and Seamus Coleman are fit, they have arguably the best full-back pairing in the top-flight.
It was therefore tough to pick a mix and match side between the clubs, but given Saints’ robustness last season, three of the five defensive positions go to them, which tips the scales in the St.Mary’s side’s favour.
Although Chelsea look ready to break the bank on Stones, the distracted youngster still doesn’t make the grade.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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