Everton's latest tactical shift that could give Saints' Clyne and Bertrand a headache
The direct battle for supremacy on Everton's right flank could ultimately decide this encounter, particularly given that Aaron Lennon's career has been revitalised by Roberto Martinez's recent switch to a more direct, width-focused 4-4-2 formation.
Everton have recorded back-to-back league victories for the first time in 12 months thanks to this tactical change and reversion to a simplified, traditional form of English football.
The main features of the system are instructing both Romelu Lukaku and Arouna Kone to peel into the channels, and for Darron Gibson to move the ball quickly into these wide areas. With the opposition defence stretched, Martinez's full-backs and wingers are finding pockets of space in which to operate.
Note the movement of Kone and Lukaku into the channels, as Gibson continually passes the ball out wide.
Unsurprisingly, Lennon is well suited to this stylistic transition, and after scoring the winning goal against QPR a fortnight ago, a good run of form is likely to follow.
As previously discussed in this series, Gibson has been pivotal to Everton's mini-revival, providing a technical composure that has been desperately lacking at Goodison Park this season.
His distribution into wide areas will most likely cause problems for Southampton's full-backs, although Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne are arguably the best full-back pairing in the country.
With Bertrand keen to push forward, and Lennon capable of putting in a good defensive shift (4 tackles, 3 interceptions vs QPR), the direct confrontation between these two could prove decisive.
Both players cover the entire length of their flank, contributing defensively (circles, diamonds, crosses) and in attack; note the take-on attempts (stars) and chances created (sky blue lines).