The big tests are starting to come thick and fast for Everton after what has been a fantastic start to the season.

The Blues have placed themselves at the top of the Premier League and have a League Cup quarter final in December to look forward to thanks to a brilliant record in their opening matches.

Seven straight victories in all competitions were enough to keep the mood at Goodison Park higher than it has been for a long time, and have some dreaming of what could potentially come down the line this season.

Carlo Ancelotti and his squad have turned things around in a short space of time and finally look ready to achieve the kind of ambitions Evertonians are desperate for.

But, interesting tests are on the horizon. One of those has already passed, of course, with Liverpool making the short trip across Stanley Park last weekend for Saturday's 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby.

Jurgen Klopp's side are the current Premier League champions and played well against their nearest rivals, but the Blues fought back from a goal down twice to secure a draw.

Considering some chances Everton had in the second half, they could have won that match. And that was without playing to the very high standard they have set themselves this season.

There were flaws against Liverpool though. Ancelotti's side didn't come out of the game with flying colours and, for the first time this season, they didn't end a match with a win either.

So, heading into this weekend's match against Southampton, the first real test will be about the mentality of the Blues.

That strong attitude, paired with the force of pure momentum, carried Ancelotti's men through the first matches of the campaign and allowed them to play some great football along the way.

That was stunted for the first time against Liverpool last weekend. The Reds are one of the best sides in the league of course, so drawing with them is no mean feat, but it's imperative to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.

A trip to face Southampton is certainly not an easy prospect in that sense.

Over the past few seasons, this is the type of game that has so often tripped Everton up and held them back.

Before the arrival of Ancelotti, the club's away record was regularly not up to scratch. The Blues were not picking up points in a consistent enough manner on the road.

Since the Italian came in, the tide has turned on that somewhat. Everton have already had two tough away matches in the Premier League this term and won them both, against Spurs and Crystal Palace.

Putting the draw against Liverpool behind them and focusing on getting three points away to another difficult opponent this time around will have to be at the top of the agenda once more.

But, it will have to be achieved without some of the club's most important players.

Suddenly, this test is looking like it could be the most difficult of the season so far.

Richarlison is missing from this weekend's match through suspension, which would have been a big absence from the side in itself thanks to the influence he still has.

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But, Seamus Coleman will also be out. The club captain has been one of many standout performers in 2020/21 and his performances have been crucial to a number of wins.

On top of that, James Rodriguez could also miss this weekend's game as he is still suffering from an injury picked up in the first minute against Liverpool thanks to a rash Virgil van Dijk challenge.

He, of course, managed to evolve Everton in an attacking sense this season. Pick out most of the Blues goals so far when he has been on the pitch, and you can bet the Colombian international has played a major role at some point in the move.

This now becomes a challenge for the rest of the squad to step up and make sure missing these influential players doesn't have an adverse effect on the result.

Can Ben Godfrey or Jonjoe Kenny step into that right back role effectively? Yes, they have both proven this season that they can.

In terms of both positions on the wing all of Alex Iwobi, Anthony Gordon and Bernard will surely be fighting for those positions against Southampton.

*Who can step up against Saints? Have your say in our very quick poll HERE.

The opportunity that all three have been waiting for could be right at their feet, the chance to show Ancelotti what they can offer.

The trio have all impressed in various matches this season, but stepping up and helping to secure three points in the Premier League would be so important in the long run.

For one of the first times this term, Everton have a few things going against them heading into this game, and there are intriguing questions to be answered.

If this squad can answer them properly, then they could overcome their biggest set of tests yet.