Aston Villa make the trip from Birmingham to Merseyside this weekend as they travel to the blue half of Liverpool to take on Everton at Goodison Park.
Everton are a club on an upward trajectory at the moment following the appointment of Sean Dyche. The club climbed out of the relegation zone last weekend after a 1-0 win over Leeds United at home that saw them win their second in three games under the new manager. Dyche’s first game with the Toffees saw them shockingly beat league leaders Arsenal, which was then followed by a 2-0 defeat in the Merseyside Derby away from home. However, the Toffees bounced back against Leeds United in solid fashion, as a brilliant Seamus Coleman goal saw them get three points and move out of the relegation zone for the first time since late December. The win against Leeds saw them go into the 16th place, one point clear of 18th placed West Ham United.
Aston Villa were last in action at home against Arsenal in a six-goal thriller that ended 2-4 in favour of the visitors. The Gunners were pegged back by an early Ollie Watkins strike after a fast break but equalized through an astonishing Bukayo Saka half-volley. However, a lapse in concentration in the Arsenal defense, saw Villa score through Phillipe Coutinho after a well-constructed move. The home side went into the break leading 2-1 against the Gunners, but the Londoners came out firing on all cylinders and soon equalized. The score remained tied 2-2 heading into the stoppage time and it seemed Aston Villa could escape with a point against a much superior team, but for a Jorginho shot from outside the box which cannoned off the crossbar and Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into the net. Villa earned a late corner, and the goalkeeper ventured forward to make amends for his mistake. In doing so, he presented Arsenal with an open net of which they promptly took advantage, making it 4-2 in an entertaining fixture.
The defeat left Villa in 11th place, three points adrift of 10th placed Chelsea.
WHEN & WHERE?
Date: Saturday, 25th February 2023.
Time: 3.00 pm BST.
Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Assistants: Adam Nunn, Adrian Holmes.
Fourth official: Graham Scott.
VAR: Chris Kavanagh.
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.
Everton manager Sean Dyche has a few concerns regarding the team at the moment, with a few key players set to miss out on Saturday’s game. There are huge doubts about the availability of Andros Townsend and striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who continues to struggle with injuries having missed the previous two games. Midfielder Amadou Onana could also be forced to miss having picked up a knock and it remains to see if he is fit enough to feature in the Everton midfield.
Aston Villa have no injury concerns at the moment, except for two backup goalkeepers in Jed Steer and Robin Olsen on the treatment table. Defender Diego Carlos is still recovering from an injury suffered early in the season.
Everton against Aston Villa is a classic English fixture as the two clubs prepare for the 210th meeting between them, making it incredibly the most played fixture in all of English football. Everton are facing the threat of relegation but under Sean Dyche, the Toffees look more organized and solid than they did under his predecessor Frank Lampard. Aston Villa, on the other hand, are sitting a bit higher up the table and are eight points clear of the relegation zone, but on current form are in danger of getting pulled into the chaos at the bottom of the table.
Everton were in a very bad state in the last weeks of Frank Lampard’s tenure and looked certain for relegation. However, as often seen with the arrival of a new manager, Sean Dyche has managed to bring in some stability, although with just three games into his reign, it would be folly to judge him so early. The former Burnley coach is vastly experienced and expects his team to be stable at the back on a priority basis. He has done just that since his arrival at the Goodison, and they seemed to have settled on a main back four. Now the Englishman needs to sort out the creative issues in his squad, which is evident by the fact that the last two goals for the club have both been scored by defenders. Dyche needs to sort out his attack soon, but his problems have been compounded by striker Calvert-Lewin’s injury issues.
Aston Villa and Unai Emery have somewhat of an opposite problem, with a leaky defense making things harder for them. The Villains have conceded 11 goals in their last three games and some glaring issues have arisen in their backline. They are sorely missing their summer signing Diego Carlos, but the lack of cohesion between Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa in the defeats to Arsenal and Leicester City were hard to miss. Right now, they are safe, but a run of three straight losses is never a good sign, and Unai Emery needs to shake things up at the Birmingham club.
Everton predicted XI vs Aston Villa: Jordan Pickford; Seamus Coleman, James Tarkowski, Conor Coady, Vitaliy Mykolenko; Alex Iwobi, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Idrissa Gueye, Tom Davies, Dwight McNeil; Neal Maupay.
Aston Villa predicted XI vs Everton: Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Luca Digne; Emiliano Buendia, Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara, Phillipe Coutinho; Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins.