Five things learned as Everton crash to defeat at Southampton

Roberto Martinez pitchside for Everton

A 2-0 loss to Southampton came courtesy of an incredible brace of own goals in the first half, with Antolin Alcaraz and Seamus Coleman netting.

Below are five observations 

The squad could be reinforced this summer

Last weekend's impressive win over Manchester United came at a cost, with both Sylvain Distin and Kevin Mirallas being ruled out against Southampton with injuries picked up over the 90 minutes against the Reds. They joined fellow first teamers Steven Pienaar, Phil Jagielka, Darron Gibson, Bryan Oviedo, Arouna Kone and Lacina Traore on the sidelines, leaving Everton with a large list of experienced players on the sidelines. Bringing in added quality to guard against such an injury crisis will make Everton a much stronger Champions League challenger next year.

Martinez has no alternative to Lukaku

Given the injuries to Kone and Traore, Martinez is stuck with Romelu Lukaku as his sole striker option. Never normally a problem given his excellent form this season, but against Southampton the Belgian struggled to demonstrate his usual rampaging threat. It might have been due to the absence of his compatriot Mirallas, but Martinez had no other option but to stick with the big front man, with no other forwards on the bench.

Everton are a club that know how to produce, and develop, youngsters

One good thing to have come from the side's injury woes has been the opportunity for Everton to demonstrate their outstanding collection of young players. Plenty have stepped up in various games for the Toffees this year, with John Stones, Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley and Lukaku all impressing at times - it may be the reason Barcelona and Chelsea are so willing to send their wonder kids there. With three other youngsters on the bench in Luke Garbutt, Ryan Ledson and Tyias Browning, the club continue to impress when it comes to developing their own players, and looking after those from other clubs.

The central defence lacked the leadership of Distin and Jagielka

Completely at odds with their second half performance against United, the Everton defence really struggled without the experience of usual central defensive partnership Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka. John Stones, who had deputised superbly for captain Jagielka over the last dozen or so matches, looked much less confident alongside Antolin Alcaraz. Both own goals came from crosses into the box that weren't dealt with by the central defence.

Finishing between Arsenal and Tottenhma would still be a major success for Everton

Though fourth spot is probably beyond them now, one more win would guarantee the Toffees a fifth place finish, which most must surely admit is a superb result considering the Merseyside club will finish above Manchester United and Tottenham. It should also ensure the side can push on in the summer and next year, with some decent signings giving them the chance of a prolonged top four assault in 2014-15.

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