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Has Mauricio Pellegrino improved Southampton?
Last Updated: 25/11/17 7:11pm
Southampton host Everton live on Sky Sports this Sunday with Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino eager for a win to ease mounting pressure - but has the Argentine improved the club?
Pellegrino replaced Claude Puel in June, who was sacked one year into his three-year deal despite guiding the Saints to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League and reaching the EFL Cup final.
A Sky Sports study revealed Southampton have had the highest number of permanent top-flight managers during the Premier League era, with Pellegrino becoming the 16th appointment.
But Pellegrino is feeling the heat already after winning only three games from his opening 12 league fixtures.
Ahead of their Super Sunday clash, we look at Southampton's signings, style of play and results to evaluate developments at the south-coast club.
Signings and key players
Mario Lemina has impressed since his £18m move from Juventus in August, but the Gabon international has missed the last three league games with an ankle injury.
Virgil van Dijk shone in the centre of defence last term but has struggled to find the kind of form that attracted big-club interest - having missed the start of the season due to summer transfer speculation.
The Saints' second big summer signing was centre-back Wesley Hoedt for £17m from Lazio, who was widely regarded as a replacement for compatriot Van Dijk - but he has only started five league games so far.
In terms of key players at the club, winger Nathan Redmond is goalless to date and has also struggled to rekindle the form he displayed under Puel, having convinced England boss Gareth Southgate to hand him his international debut in April this year.
Manolo Gabbiadini burst onto the scene with the Midas touch after signing in January for £17.1m from Napoli, scoring four goals in his first three league games. However, the Italian failed to score again in the Premier League that season and has only found the back of the net on three occasions under Pellegrino.
In contrast, Oriol Romeu was voted Southampton's Player of the Season last term and has been among the Saints' top performers again during this campaign, as has fellow midfielder Steven Davis.
Style of play
Under Pellegrino, Southampton have recorded higher levels of activity in the centre of the pitch with a 4-2-3-1 formation, primarily through Romeu, Lemina and Davis.
There has been a noticeable drop in activity down the right flank during this campaign. an area typically occupied by Dusan Tadic - whereas Puel tended to deploy Redmond down the right in a 4-3-3.
In terms of the stats, there have been few significant changes between the two seasons, with the exception of Fraser Forster making 40 per cent more saves and 20 per cent more throws per 90 minutes, on average.
Conversely, and most worryingly for Pellegrino, stats in decline include the number of goals, shots on target and assists - in addition to interceptions.
Despite the negative headlines, Southampton are currently on 13 points and 14th in the league - only one point off their tally after 12 games under Puel, when they sat in 10th place on 14 points.
The main reason for concern is a lack of goals, with only Crystal Palace and Swansea having scored fewer in the Premier League and Southampton desperately need Gabbiadini, Shane Long or Charlie Austin to hit form in front of goal.
While Pellegrino will be looking to quell speculation surrounding his future, Everton's interim boss David Unsworth will also be keen for a positive result to stake a claim for the job on a permanent basis.
The pundit view - Matt Le Tissier
"I would have expected, by this point, to see some improvement from what we saw last season. It just feels like at the moment there's not been a great amount of change.
"They say the definition of madness is trying the same thing over and over again and getting the same results, and I would have thought that after trying the same system with different players Pellegrino would have realised that it is the system which isn't working.
"The main problem is the that the players behind the striker have all been out of form at the same time and there's not been a lot of creativity on the whole.
"I would have thought the players we've got would lend itself to playing a 3-5-2, forcing Ryan Bertrand and Cedric to get further forward up the pitch and give Charlie Austin a chance because we've struggled to score goals. He's the one player out of three, if the ball falls in the box, you'd go with to take the chance.
"Shane Long seems completely drained of confidence and, while he'll always work his socks off for you, he seems a confidence player and nothing is going right for him right now."
Which manager will come out on top when they meet at St Mary's? Watch Southampton v Everton live on Sky Sports Premier League from 12.30pm on Sunday to find out.