Everton manager Roberto Martinez is paying little attention to Southampton's current form ahead of the sides' Premier League clash.
Southampton made a promising start to the season, prompting some to speculate over whether they could sustain a push for UEFA Champions League qualification.
However, five defeats on the bounce in all competitions have seen Ronald Koeman's men slip to fifth and crash out of the League Cup to third-tier outfit Sheffield United in recent weeks.
Dusan Tadic missed a penalty as Southampton lost 1-0 at Burnley last time out in the league, but Martinez, whose team travel to St Mary's Stadium on Saturday, believes it is a only matter of time before the south-coast side rediscover their form.
"I don't assess Southampton by their moment of form," he said. "I assess them by what they've done in the season.
"Alongside West Ham, they are the best team in how they started the season.
"Everything levels up. They are a joy to watch, well structured.
"Koeman bought some players who adapted to the league very quickly, adapted to attacking football and full of flair.
"I like to watch them and I'm not paying attention to results. I went to see the Burnley game and if they score the penalty they win the game.
"They're a really strong team and can compete for the top six until the end of the season."
Southampton are facing something of a midfield selection crisis, though, with Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin both suspended, along with defender Florin Gardos, while Tadic and Jake Hesketh are out with fatigue and a knee injury respectively.
Steven Davis (fatigue/knock) adds to Koeman's injury headache as he remains a doubt for the weekend, while there are also question marks over top scorer Graziano Pelle (fatigue/knock), but the Dutch boss has backed his players to recover from their midweek cup exit.
"It's the past," he insisted. "That's the nicest part of football - you always have the next game.
"We can change a lot of things. We have to change our teamwork, our belief and our spirit. That's the key in my opinion for Saturday's game.
"I like how Everton play. It's all about football, good ball position, and that means this Saturday it will be an attractive match because it's about football."
Everton will be without Kevin Mirallas, although his ankle injury is not as serious as first thought, while Leon Osman (ankle), James McCarthy (hamstring) and Darron Gibson (knee) all face a race against time to be fit.comments