Boyhood Everton fan Adam Lallana will be putting all emotion to one side tonight in the hope that Southampton beat the Blues at St Mary’s.
The team captain is unlikely to face the Toffees as he makes progress on his return from injury and he says Saints will have to keep on working hard to progress in the top flight. However, Lallana is impressed with how the team has played in his absence.
“It’s commendable how quickly the lads have adapted to the demands of this league,” he tells Monday’s official matchday programme.
“It was a bigger step than we imagined and it was made harder by the fact that we lost our first four games.
“The defeat against Manchester United was perhaps the most demoralising because we lost from a position where we looked like we could go on and win the game.
“To follow that with a 6-1 defeat at Arsenal left us low on confidence but credit to everyone here, we’ve clawed our way back. And we’ve done it with the help of two or three good results away from home.”
One of the results that epitomised the adaptation to Premier League football was the 3-1 defeat at Goodsion Park to Everton back in September. An opening goal from Gaston Ramirez was quickly bettered by three strikes for the home side before half time, which exposed Saints’ frailties.
And Lallana, whose dad was a big Everton supporter and took young Adam along to watch such Goodison legends as Neville Southall, Duncan Ferguson and Paul Rideout, concedes that the current crop of Blues players are as good as he’s ever known.
“Dad used to reminisce about the good old days when Everton won the old first division championship and the FA Cup back in the 1970s and 80s but they weren’t quite so good when I started supporting them,” says Lallana.
“Now it’s different, though. This is the best Everton team in my lifetime as we saw for ourselves when we played up there in September.
“The manager David Moyes has instilled real purpose into this Everton side,” says the Saints star.
“They have strength and resilience and attack with pace and flair. (Leon) Osman and (Marouane) Fellaini, who is a big danger in the air, are having terrific seasons and (Nikica) Jelavic, up front, is someone we’ll have to watch closely.”
Read the full interview with Adam Lallana inside tonight’s official matchday programme on sale in and around St Mary’s priced at £3