48 mins: Let us remember that Southampton are in the bottom three and have won just two Premier League matches in 2018. And still Sam Allardyce puts on the belt and braces.
46 mins: That’s bringing on a centre-half for an attacking player by Sam Allardyce. At half-time. OK, it’s to amend his system to match Southampton’s but such things do not win over Everton fans craving entertainment.
Half-time subs: Nathan Redmond on for Lamina for Southampton, and the utterly anonymous Bolasie has gone off for Ramiro Funes Mori.
Another game in deadlock is being played at Wembley. It must be the weather.
Big ups for the Flaming Lips reference! I used to see them in small clubs in the early 90’s. They were great. Haven’t listened to them much in the last 15 or so years.
This game stinks. These teams stink. As a Baggies fan it’s probably too much to ask Everton to do a goal. They stink. Did I mention that already?
— J.R. in Illinois
A Mr HMSH emails in: “The things I do to follow this football team, usually it means staying up late at night (with work following the morning), but I’ve got pure luxury this time, I can watch the game on a small, very dated TV and I have beer, and it’s only midnight! Shame the football still isn’t great, mind.”
Good for you.
Paul, an Evertonian, emails in: “Staying up with Big Sam or relegation whilst retaining a modicum of entertainment….. I know where my money is.. Not in Sam’s pocket!”
What can we conclude from that? If this is to be Allardyce’s final home game in charge of Everton it appears he wants to protect that record of having only lost to Manchester City at home; that appears the very apex of his ambition. And as for Southampton, their problems this season are laid a little bare by being really not very good, and especially in attack. It would seem to rely on Tadic coming up with something.
45 mins: And that’s it, a blessed relief. In terms of entertainment, utterly hopeless. And the boos are loud from the home fans. Everton have been, to put it politely, conservative. Southampton have had plenty of the ball but have been largely inept with it as soon as the Everton 18-yard box hoves into view.
44 mins: Thank you to the anonymous caller who sent in a picture of their bottle of beer.
43 mins: Lamina leaves the field to come back on again. He will probably get until half-time.
41 mins: Lamina down with an injury again. Mark Hughes shows he hasn’t lost his ability to kill a ball stone dead with his chest when it flies to the sidelines. Perhaps the most entertaining moment of this drabness.
39 mins: A glint of an opening for Southampton is snuffed out by Baines cutting off Austin just as the striker was shaping for a shot.
38 mins: Tadic goes for power and hits the wall. A waste. Cedric Soares follows up with a garryowen hoof into the air. That’s about the size of this game.
38 mins: Another set-piece, this time for Saints. Long way out. What will Tadic try here?
37 mins: Leighton Baines’ ball is collected well by Alex McCarthy, who had to climb high to get to it.
36 mins: A bit of rage from the stands as the ball doesn’t go forward quick enough for Everton. They do, though, cheer a free-kick.
33 mins: How many will stay for Everton’s “lap of appreciation” afterwards? A guess at this stage will be that Goodison will be only half-full once Wayne and his lads take the stage.
32 mins: Again, Southampton dominant in possession but unable to find a final pass. Everton meanwhile showing very little in the way of ambition.
31 mins: Bertrand is down, Lamina is also carrying a knock. Perhaps that is the source of Hughes’ latest grimace. Both carry on for now.
30 mins: Mark Hughes looking unamused, though he is not one for the smiles, really, is he?
28 mins: Better now from Saints. Tadic is finding his men with passes. A couple of hurried clearances from Everton. Romeu’s shot was deflected and Pickford could only palm clear.
26 mins: Tadic takes a free-kick short and it finds Bertrand. Another cloven-hooved overhit of the ball. Memories of Nacho Monreal on Thursday, a left-back finding space and troubling Row Z (Cars).
25 mins: Yoshida and his pink robots bang into Davies, and there is a meek claim for an Everton penalty. Not that anyone actually cares that much. Or so it appears.
23 mins: Southampton keep getting forced back in their attempts to build attacks. Neither team have much in the way of flow.
21 mins: Free-kick chance for Everton. Tosun got bundled over. Tom Davies chips in, and it comes to naught as a foul was committed as the ball was being played. At times like this it is easy to sympathise with the disaffected at Goodison.
19 mins: Oooh, close. Michael Keane makes a mistake and Austin swings his boot at the loose ball. Neat, punched save from Pickford. Better play all round.
17 mins: This is bitty stuff. Can Southampton really be trying to play for a draw? That’s one hell of a risky strategy.
15 mins: Austin got away from Everton’s defence but offside called. He was onside but perhaps the official didn’t believe Austin could get so clear without being offside. Not good for Mark Hughes’ blood pressure, such decisions.
13 mins: TV pictures there showed Wayne Rooney with his brood of sons. All, of course, clad in Evertonian blue.
12 mins: Lamina dispossessed Gueye, but he was penalised for a foul. At the other end, Tosun nods over. First attempt at goal for Everton?
10 mins: Pressure now from Southampton. Plenty of possession, moving the ball just fine but without ever looking like they can open up Everton.
9 mins: Tadic had a chance to set up Austin but like Bertrand before, a heavy touch. Nerves there, perhaps?
7 mins: Not a lot happening on the pitch at the moment, not much urgency from Southampton. It is a mark of Allardyce teams to start slow, keep shape and then launch later on. Or, as can often happen, to stay slow and in shape.
4 mins: Ryan Bertrand, one of those players who will surely be playing Premier League football next season whatever happens, booms a cross a little too high. He had time and space, too.
3 mins: Goodison not exactly brimming with end of season fervour, though Tom Davies’ shot, just wide of the post, lifts the noise level up a tad.
2 mins: Southampton start with some early pressure. Everton begin with a couple of long balls, as is their manager’s wont.
1 min: Referee Jon Moss, from the Church of the Poisoned Mind, gets the game underway.
Wayne Rooney, it seems, injured his knee in training yesterday, which sounds a little ominous. Everton wait on a scan, which may not be good news for those who would want him gone from the club.
The sound of Z Cars’ theme tune means that we are away at Goodison Park. They also play it at Watford’s Vicarage Road, though for reasons I am not aware of. Z Cars was based in Merseyside.
Sam Allardyce speaks: “It’s the last home game, full house, all sold out and we’ll try to keep the home record up. Our problem is the injuries. It’s left us a little light on the front end. The situation is we have to contain Southampton. We want to be the first to score. That puts them under more pressure. It’s a little different than a normal game. They have a different system to us and we’ll have to see how it pans out.”
Mark Hughes speaks: “It’s a huge game. We’ve put ourselves in a position where we have got a fighting chance. We just have to get on with our own business, and affect our own future. Everton are a team in decent form and it’s not going to to be easy.”
Also in this tea-time slot is the Women’s FA Cup final from Wembley. Join Scott Murray for that.
It was Jake Livermore with that fateful goal and it’s full-time and three points for West Brom at the Hawthorns. It might not be enough for the Baggies, but that’s serious pressure on Southampton.
And West Brom have scored. They are still alive! That means Saints have to win to terminate Darren Moore’s Red Adair act.
Mark Hughes, meanwhile, has stayed with the Southampton team that beat Bournemouth last week. Charlie Austin over Shane Long it is. After all, Saints need to score.
And on the bench, it’s the rarely spotted Davy Klaassen, he who could have joined Napoli in January but decided to stay.
The news there is no Wayne Rooney or Theo Walcott for Everton. Both are out with injury. Yannick Bolasie and Tom Davies come in for the former stars of the future.
Here’s the teams
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Baines, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Vlasic, Davies, Bolasie, Tosun.
Subs: Martina, Niasse, Klaassen, Funes Mori, Robles, Kenny, Baningime.
Southampton: McCarthy, Bednarek, Yoshida, Hoedt, Cedric, Romeu, Lemina, Bertrand, Tadic, Austin, Hojbjerg.
Subs: Stephens, Long, Ward-Prowse, Gabbiadini, Redmond, McQueen, Forster.
Referee: Jonathan Moss (County Durham)
As it stands, results are pretty going Southampton’s way, with West Brom being held by Spurs and Swansea losing at Bournemouth. West Ham winning at Leicester is not so good news, but with Saints still to play Swans matters are their hands, to coin the relegation cliche.
Anyway, Rob Smyth is on clockwatch duty.
With Stoke going down, Mark Hughes has one hand on a disastrous entry on his CV. Should he be unable to arrest Southampton’s sink to the Championship, he would become the first manager to manage two relegated teams in one Premier League season. It had been done before in the sepia, pre-1992 football age, and twice. Ron Saunders suffered it with Birmingham City in 1985-6 and Billy McNeill followed up the next year with Manchester City and Aston Villa. So, a select band to join/avoid.
Of course, Hughes and Saints fans may be heartened by news from elsewhere with both Swansea and West Brom skirting the trapdoor and playing earlier. But should Saints need to get a win to add to their scratchy, nervous defeat of Bournemouth last week, then they have Sam Allardyce in their way. Hughes has been notably complimentary to Big Sam this week, since Big Sam on a trolling mission is someone to be avoided. Just ask those Everton fans who his every media appearance appears to be delivered with a smirk. “It’s an entertainment game, you’re trying to capture hearts and minds, and certainly I think, particularly from a home point of view, we’ve achieved that,” he said this week. A sizeable group of Evertonians disagree, though as ever, Sam points to the figures – 14 points from seven games. He’s never been relegated from the Premier League, either. Mark Hughes would love to be able to say the same.