Sam Allardyce believes Southampton’s league position will make them a difficult prospect for his Everton side at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Victory over Bournemouth was a shot in the arm for Mark Hughes’s Saints who will look to build on the momentum so raucously created at St Mary’s the previous weekend.
For Allardyce, the two may combine to make a tough evening for his team on Merseyside.
“I think we’re in for a very difficult game tomorrow particularly in light of Southampton’s win against Bournemouth,” he said.
“It’s given them a real lifeline and we’ll be facing a team that will be fighting tooth and nail to try and get a result against us and we’ve got to try and stop them.
“I’m surprised to see all three teams in the drop zone. I don’t think many would have expected to see them struggling at the start of the campaign.”
The Toffees are equally looking to end on a high. After collecting 14 points from a possible 21 to all but guarantee a top 10 place, they will be looking to close the season undefeated and push to match last term’s seventh-place finish.
“Teams can dip off at this stage of the year but I’m proud of the players for not letting that happen and for not switching off, winning every game is important in the Premier League.
“The effort of the team and the turnaround in results since I have been here speaks for itself. We’ve improved the level of the team consistently since then. We’ve come back strongly recently and the players are giving everything they’ve got; the results are testament to that.
“We’ve got ourselves into a better position in the league and we want to finish these final two games of the season undefeated.”
Allardyce confirmed that on the injury front, youngsters Mason Holgate (ankle) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (back) are both likely to miss out this weekend.