Everton vs Aston Villa – Pre-game Assessment

Sunday, January 14th, 14.00 – Goodison Park

Referee: David Coote

Success comes with a price that our Villans will have to pay during the second half of this season.  Currently, sitting just behind Liverpool and ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal, we are not going to sneak-up on any opponent.  In the same way that Sheffield United prepared a game plan to stop our home winning streak by playing everyone, but Cameron Archer, behind the ball, others will similarly prepare.

Manchester United, still under the illusion of past greatness, were an exception and appeared surprised when we grabbed a two-goal lead.  Still, they got off the canvas in the second half and responded with a spirited come-back.  Would that have happened if Kamara and Torres had been able to play?  Probably not.  Regardless, Emery will undoubtedly prepare the team for dealing with such eventualities in the future!

Most recently, Burnley and Middlesborough gave it their best, but we found ways to prevail.  Consequently, our Villans are bringing a two-game winning streak to Goodison Park this Sunday where the hosts must be uneasy about their most recent five games without a win, four of them defeats.

Thanks to a ten-point reduction in points (for financial irregularities), Everton find themselves 17th just one point above Luton and relegation to the Championship, something Everton has never suffered.  There has to be some trepidation in Merseyside, especially with the Reds in ascendancy.

Recent form between our Villans and the Toffees is also in our favor.    We have a multi-season winning streak going in Premier League games (that includes the double last year and a 4-0 win early in the season at Villa Park).

As for the home advantage, our recent improvement in away game productivity (not withstanding our failure to hold the lead at Old Trafford) suggests that we should start on the front foot and make it very difficult for the hosts to gain traction.

Of course, this Everton team, under Sean Dyche, never dominates possession, even when they win.  Their strategy is to be a counterpuncher.  They accept the pressure and stay calm, then find the right moment to threaten on the break.

That is a strategy that had some success against us in each of the last three Premier League games.  We had most of the possession in each game (55% against Man U.) yet got caught for six goals in total against the world’s leading goalie, our Emi Martinez.

That was perturbing, but it was encouraging to see that, most recently, we defended more robustly and got a shut-out at Middlesborough, an in-form Championship team, in the F. A. Cup.

Line-up-wise, Everton are missing (or likely to be missing) the following quality players, Idrissa Gueye, Dele Alli, Ashley Young, and Abdoulaye Doucoure while our Villans will be without Lucas Digne and Youri Tielemans (as well as, of course, Tyrone Mings and Emi Buendia). Advantage to our Villans given our better bench strength.

I expect us to start aggressively, and with intensity, and exploit our skill and confidence advantage to get the first goal.  Once in the lead, we will continue to press to get the second and take their fans out of the equation.

Result Prediction:

Everton 0, Aston Villa 2

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

With respect to the line-up, I anticipate that Emery will select Matty Cash over Diego Carlos, with Konsa, Torres, and Moreno rounding out the back line, have Kamara rejoin Luiz and McGinn in midfield, with Ramsey and Bailey teaming up with Watkins up-front.

Aston Villa: (4, 3, 3) Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Torres, Moreno, Kamara, McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey, Bailey, Watkins.

Subs: Marschall, Lenglet, Diaby, Carlos, Zaniolo, Dendoncker, Chambers, Durán, Iroegbunam

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