Mark Lawrenson offers opinion on Martinez's Everton future, predicts result against Southampton

Mark Lawrenson has defended Everton manager Roberto Martinez.

Pundit Mark Lawrenson has told BBC Sport that he thinks Everton will beat Southampton this afternoon - and attempted to defend manager Roberto Martinez.

The Toffees drew 1-1 at Watford last weekend before a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace in midweek, meaning it's now just one win the last seven games for Everton.

That run of results has piled the pressure on manager Martinez, who has clearly underachieved with a talented Everton squad so far this season.

Currently 12th and a whopping 17 points shy of the top four - where many Everton fans believe they should be - Martinez has to enjoy a strong end to the season to avoid questions about his job over the summer.

That starts with today's game against Southampton, who hammered Newcastle United 3-1 last weekend, making it three wins in the last four games for Ronald Koeman's side.

Now, pundit Mark Lawrenson has told BBC Sport that he thinks the Saints will lose the game 2-1 at Goodison Park, despite Everton's season-long struggles at home.

Lawrenson also defended manager Martinez, suggesting that if the club's away form was switched with the home form, fans wouldn't be quite so angry - but did acknowledge this is a huge week for Martinez, given that Everton also face rivals Liverpool in midweek and then an FA Cup semi-final next weekend.

"Southampton easily despatched Newcastle last week but you cannot really use that as a yardstick because this will be a lot tougher for them," said Lawrenson. "Everton have won only once at home in the Premier League since 2 November and have lost their past three league matches at Goodison Park."

"That is a big part of the problem for Toffees boss Roberto Martinez. There is a groundswell of opinion against him from the fans but if you swapped their home record for their away record, you would not have as many angry supporters because the majority of Evertonians only go to home games."

"Yes, they should be doing far better than they are because of the players they have got, so you are left asking the question 'what is this down to?'. This is the start of a massive week for Martinez. After this week he has a decision to make about the team he puts out for Wednesday's Merseyside derby at Anfield, because Everton play their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United three days later," he added.

What's your prediction for Everton v Southampton?

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