English Premiership

Everton must defend better

2015-08-14 15:15
Roberto Martinez (AFP)

London - Everton have started this season in the same way they began their previous two under the management of Martinez; by drawing 2-2 against a team they might have expected to beat.

Watford exposed defensive vulnerabilities at Goodison Park last Saturday, with Phil Jagielka in particular looking shaky.

It is that soft centre, more than a record of just two away wins at Southampton in the Premier League era, that may give Martinez cause for apprehension.

They will certainly need to defend better than they have on their last two visits to St Mary's; they lost both times and conceded three own goals in the process.

"Our last two visits to Southampton have been tough for different reasons," Martinez said.

"If things could have gone wrong, they went wrong. Two years ago we conceded two early own goals.

"If you look at our history, it's been a very tough place for us. It becomes an extra challenge, and we want to embrace that."

Martinez has not been helped defensively by the freak ankle injury Leighton Baines suffered in training last week.

The left-back had only just returned from an absence of almost three months following surgery on the same ankle, and has now been ruled out for around three months.

Winger Kevin Mirallas, though, has recovered from the swollen ankle sustained last Saturday, when he was on the receiving end of a rough challenge by Swiss midfielder Velon Behrami.

His presence will aid an attacking threat led by Romelu Lukaku, but supported by the re-energised Ross Barkley, and with the additional option of Arouna Kone.

The Ivory Coast striker's two years at Goodison Park have been blighted by injury and poor form, but his late equaliser against Watford suggested better times ahead.

"It's a new start for Arouna," Martinez said.

Southampton host Everton on Saturday at the St. Mary's Stadium. Kick-off is set for 13:45. 


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