Everton's ascent of the Premier League table was stalled in puzzling fashion on Boxing Day when a 10-match stretch without a loss was ended by bottom-of-the-table Sunderland at Goodison Park.
It also ended the Toffees' streak of 17 home matches without a defeat, so the best they can hope for in Sunday's Merseyside meeting with Southampton is to start back at one. They were two matches shy of going a calendar year unbeaten at home.
"We're very disappointed, but the season is August to May, not a calendar year, and we'll get over that now," Everton defender Phil Jagielka told the club's official website. "Maybe that's a little monkey off our backs and we can go out and play well on Sunday, get those three points and climb back up the table."
Like it or not, the impact of the loss to the Black Cats will be felt against the Saints. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was shown a red card in the 23rd minute for taking down Ki Sung-Yueng, which resulted in a converted penalty, the match's only goal. Howard was replaced in goal by Joel Robles, who will make his first Premier League start since joining the club.
Everton (9-7-2) will also be without midfielder Gareth Barry, who accumulated his fifth yellow card of the season.
"We've got a decent squad and some good players to come in, some fresh players as well - which is obviously important over this period - so hopefully they can come in, freshen up the squad, and we can put in a good performance on Sunday," Jagielka said.
Forward Kevin Mirallas, however, is expected to be healthy after being substituted against Sunderland because of an illness, and defender Leighton Baines could return from a six-match absence due to a broken toe.
Despite the 10-man defeat, Everton are the only top-flight club with only two losses, though this one dropped them five points off Arsenal's table-leading 39. The Toffees are in fifth place, while Southampton (7-6-5) are in ninth with 27 points.
Riding an 0-2-4 stretch, the Saints were just about desperate for a positive result Thursday at Cardiff City and got it with a 3-0 win, their first clean sheet since Oct. 26.
"Hopefully we've now come out of that and things will be good from now on," defender Luke Shaw told the club's official website. "We've come off the back of a 3-0 win and a clean sheet while (Everton) have just had a bad result, so hopefully they're going through the bad patch that we've just been through. They've been very good this season and have been challenging in the top five, so we know it's going to be a very tough game, especially with them being at home."
Jay Rodriguez's early double and Rickie Lambert's 27th-minute finish ensured the club's first win since Nov. 9. Rodriguez has three goals in his last three starts.
"We got a clean sheet today and the team performance was brilliant, and now we can kick on," Rodriguez said.
While Everton have gone 5-3-1 at home, Southampton have been respectable in away fixtures with a 3-3-3 record on nine goals for and nine against.
The Toffees took four points last season from the Saints, including a 3-1 Merseyside win on Sept. 29, 2012, that featured a Nikica Jelavic double.
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