Aston Villa earned their first Premier League points since February 2016 in an impressive 2-0 victory over Everton under the Friday night lights of Villa Park.
The encounter between two of England’s biggest clubs lived up to the expectations with an exciting end to end game of attacking football. Wesley got Villa off to a perfect start, slotting in his first goal in Claret and Blue after an expertly weighted through ball from Jota.
Everton created a handful of decent chances to draw level. The most notable being Alex Iwobi’s effort, which hit the post, and Theo Walcott’s skewed volley in the dying minutes of normal time.
Villa punished Everton for not taking their chances when substitute El Ghazi slotted past Pickford to put the tie to bed in the 95th minute, securing Villa’s first three points of the season.
Despite being on top for the majority of the game, Everton were unable to score for the second time in 3 games. They now sit on 4 points, having won one, drawn one and lost one.
Can Villa Now Climb the Table?
Villa put in a fantastic display against Everton, securing their first 3 points of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign. Tyrone Mings and Bjorn Engels impressed at the back, with the pair contributing a combined 16 clearances and 4 blocks. Villa’s attack was also clinical, spearheaded by the dominant Wesley and supported by Jota, who put in an assist and an eye-catching performance on his first Premier League start.
Many will say that Villa have been unlucky not to have picked up any points in their first two games. A solid defensive display for 60 minutes against Tottenham and a strong second half against Bournemouth had Villa fans believing that their team could produce the performances necessary to survive in the Premier League. Their performance against Everton will certainly give Dean Smith and the Villa faithful confidence that they can push on towards Premier League security. With some favourable upcoming fixtures in the next few weeks, could this victory be a turning point in Villa’s season?
A Case of Missed Opportunities for Everton?
By all accounts, Everton were unlucky not to score against Villa. Dominic Calvert-Lewin saw his first-half effort blocked on the line by Engels, whilst Iwobi and Walcott both missed golden chances late on in the second half to draw Everton level. Everton displayed some fantastic counter-attacking football, especially in the first half and probably deserved a goal for their efforts.
Marco Silva was disappointed by the result, claiming that it was difficult to see how his side lost the game with so many attacking chances. The Everton manager had a valid point, as his side had 12 shots on target and 65% possession. However, they could only guide one of those 12 shots on target. Silva’s side showed encouraging signs, yet they will need to convert more than their one goal in three games if they want to secure European football by the end of the season.
Ultimately, Everton’s loss was down to their poor finishing rather than a lack of attacking intent. Everton fans will be expecting better results from their side in the coming weeks as their run of easier opening fixtures will soon be coming to an end.
Mings for England?
After gaining promotion to the Premier League, one of Dean Smith’s priorities was to sure up his leaky defence which conceded 63 goals during their promotion campaign from the Championship. The defensive triangle of Mings and Engles and Heaton showed promise during Villa’s first 2 defeats in the Premier League, despite conceding 5 goals.
The result finally fell in place for the Villans against Everton, partly due to another superb display from the two Villa centre-halves. Mings especially impressed, winning possession 5 times, 100% of his tackles and completing 10 clearances. The composure and calmness he showed at the back was epitomised by his dribble out of his own box after Iwobi hit the post. This is something Villa have lacked in their defence for a long time.
With Southgate in the stands at Villa Park, Mings’ display would have certainly caught the eye of the England manager. Even if the 26-year-old isn’t called up for the national side, performances like the ones he has shown so far will certainly put Villa in the right direction towards Premier League survival.
Silva Under Pressure?
Silva will have expected more from Everton’s start to the season, with his side only scoring once in three games. Despite keeping two clean sheets, Everton haven’t shown the performances needed for their European ambitions, especially as they have played against teams outside of the top six.
Silva handed Calvert-Lewin and Bernard a third of the season start against Villa, with neither impressing massively throughout the game. Andre Gomes had possibly his worst performance in an Everton shirt so far, giving Silva another problem to worry about. New signings Kean and Iwobi had both shown promising signs during their substitute appearances in their first two games and must have felt hard done by not to have started against Villa.
Everton’s European ambitions still remain intact with 4 points on the board, however, their fans will be hoping that Silva can pick a starting 11 whose performances can match their ambitions. Otherwise, Silva may find himself under some pressure this season.
Is Wesley the Man?
Record signing Wesley opened his Premier League account with an expertly taken goal in the first half. He becomes the second Brazilian to score for Villa, following his compatriot Douglas Luiz’ stunning effort against Bournemouth last weekend.
Apart from the goal, Wesley showed the Villa faithful why he cost £25m, dominating Everton’s centre-halves Michale Keane and Yerry Mina for the entirety of the game. His performance earned him Man of the Match, as well as early comparisons to one of Villa’s best strikers in recent years, Christian Benteke.
The Brazilian’s goal will relieve the immediate pressure put on him by the Villa fans, however, he will still need to shoulder the burden of scoring more goals if Villa want a chance at staying up this season. His performance against Everton has certainly shown signs that he is more than capable of achieving this.
Both teams face midweek fixtures in the Carabao Cup. Villa travel to Crewe, whilst Everton are hosted by Lincoln City. Villa then travel down to South East London to face Crystal Palace in their next Premier League game. Everton play a second West Midlands side in a row as they host fellow European contenders Wolves.