By George Overhill

29th Sep, 2022 | 5:10pm

Paul Merson has predicted that Everton will draw their trip to Southampton at the weekend because Saints are at home in what is a “massive” game for Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The two sides come out of the international break on the south coast on Saturday (1 October) side by side in the Premier League table, both on seven points, with the Toffees a place higher on goal-difference in 13th.

But the outlook is decidedly more positive on Merseyside where Merson agrees that Frank Lampard has got his side playing for him, whereas the Saints have lost to struggling Aston Villa and Wolves in consecutive games, but Merson still believes it will finish 1-1.

In his predictions column for Sportskeeda Merson said: “With the stories I’ve heard coming out of Southampton, this is going to be a massive match for Ralph Hassenhuttl.

“They play Everton at home this week, and he’ll need his team to win this football match. I do worry for the manager if they don’t get a good result in this game.

“Everton are working hard and have become difficult to beat. Frank Lampard is getting the best out of his players, and that’s all you can ask for from a manager.

“Everton fans ask for only one thing – a hundred percent from their players every week. The team has lived up to that expectation and they’ve produced a couple of good results.

“Everton are far from the best team in the Premier League, but Frank Lampard is getting a tune out of them. Southampton have the home advantage in this fixture and could play out a draw this weekend.”

Building

This game looks like the ideal opportunity to prove that the first win of the season over West Ham in the previous game was no fluke (18 September).

Since the transfer window finally closed, and the manager no longer had to concentrate on desperately trying to get all the areas of his squad covered while keeping hold of star man Anthony Gordon, his team have played out a pulsating Merseyside derby draw that could easily have been a victory, then recorded that solid 1-0 against the Hammers.

With Dominic Calvert-Lewin fit to play some role if the manager chooses, but Neal Maupay the match-winner last time out, he suddenly has the luxury of options up front, something which seemed a world away at the start of the campaign.

At the same time star keeper Jordan Pickford is set to return in goal. With the deadline day signings afforded almost a month to acclimatise given the international break and the previous postponements there is every chance Everton might be set for a run.

If there is as much disarray behind the scenes at St. Mary’s as is rumoured then Lampard has to get his players to take full advantage at the weekend.

The injury to Nathan Patterson on international duty is the main concern heading into this one, as it has the potential to upset the impressive understanding that the back four have built up, so attention will turn to club captain Seamus Coleman to pick up the slack.