Aston Villa vs Everton – Pre-game Assessment

Raphael (Rafa) Benitez, Everton’s new manager, and Thomas Tuchel have some very relevant similarities, the major one being their ability to win the big games (both have won the UEFA Champions League).  More significantly, both have taken over teams in the last year and have had a remarkable, and immediate, impact with both teams currently tied for the Premier League lead with a record of three wins and one tie for a total of ten points alongside Man U and Liverpool.  Currently, the Blues lead the Toffees on goal differential.

The similarities between the team the Villa lost to last week and the team they play this weekend are worthy of note and are a good reason to take this Everton squad seriously.  Undoubtedly, they will pose a serious threat to score and be difficult to penetrate.

On the plus side for the claret and blues is that Everton’s early season success has been against teams that are all likely to end the season in the bottom half of the table (Southampton, Leeds, Brighton and Burnley).  Their only away win was at Brighton where they won by ceding possession (34% to 66%) and exploiting their speed on the break.  If Villa make Brighton’s mistakes of giving Birmingham City alumnus, Demarai Gray, too much space on the left or making clumsy tackles in their own penalty area, they will deserve to lose.

Villa are unlikely to make those mistakes and appear likely to benefit from Everton’s woes: Calvert-Lewin’s injury that should keep unavailable and James Rodriguez’s likelihood of not being selected to play by Rafa, even if he has recovered from his ailments.  Add to Everton’s challenges are our Villans’ good fortune to have Emi Martinez between the sticks and Emi Buendia available to start. Like most Villa fans, I share the feeling that this is a great game to get our season back on track.

Certainly, with away fixtures at Man U and Spurs to follow, this is a pivotal game.  That suggests that manager Dean Smith will start with the players who have shown they are in-form.  That points to a backline of Cash, Konsa, Mings and Targett, a midfield repeat of Stamford Bridge (McGinn, Luiz, and Ramsey) and Buendia lining up on the right of Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins.

There is no reason that Ollie’s harassment of Everton’s backline and McGinn’s ability to pilfer in midfield, will not create the kind of chances that Ings and Buendia can feed off. 

This is likely to be a tense, if not an exciting, game with me betting on a 2-0 Villa win!  UTV.

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