Aston Villa vs Everton
Venue: Villa Park
Referee: Michael Oliver
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Aston Villa host Everton under the lights on Friday evening as they look to pick up their first Premier League points of the season in their return to the top-flight after a three-year absence.
Villa fans will have been confident after their performance against Spurs as they would have picked up a point if it wasn’t for a Harry Kane double in the last ten minutes. However, the return to Villa Park didn’t exactly go to plan as Dean Smith’s side were taught a harsh lesson by Bournemouth. Two early Cherries goals and wasted Villa chances was enough for Eddie Howe’s to spoil Villa’s day.
Fans may be slightly concerned by the fact they had 63% possession and 22 shots, 10 more than their opponents but still couldn’t earn a point at least. If they are to get a result against Everton, the Villans will have to be much more clinical against one of the Premier League’s strongest defences.
Everton have picked up four points so far this season but are yet to deliver a standout display. They will look to do so on the road this week and take advantage of the poor form belonging to their opponents.
Marco Silva’s side beat visitors Watford 1-0 last weekend as they claimed their first win for the 2019/20 campaign. They were far from convincing in their performance, but a goal in the first 10 minutes from Brazilian winger Bernard was enough to settle it. Watford controlled the second half in their attempts to draw level while Everton struggled to showcase their slick attack play that was on show towards the end of last season.
It will be a tough trip down to the Midlands but Everton will hope that they can remain as defensively impressive as they have been recently while sharpening up going forward.
Everton’s defence have been superb recently and have only conceded 14 goals in the Premier League in 2019 while 10 of last season’s 14 clean sheets were kept from January onwards. These impressive stats are seemingly going to continue having kept two clean sheets in their first two games this season.
If Villa are going to win in front of their home fans they are going to have to break down one of the toughest Premier League defences while proving their own defensive capabilities against Everton’s high calibre forwards upfront.
It’s unlikely the Aston Villa will change their team as they have looked good despite losing their first two games – it may just be a case of players adapting to their new league.
John McGinn is a key man for Villa putting in impressive performances in both fixtures so far. A goal against Spurs and a playmaker’s performance during the Bournemouth game makes him irreplaceable.
Douglas Luiz is likely to start again as well after he scored against the Cherries and seems to fit into the midfield nicely alongside McGinn and Jack Grealish.
Jonathan Kodjia is still a doubt for Villa but new signing Wesley is still likely to be Dean Smith’s preferred choice.
Everton might be without left-back Lucas Digne who limped off in the second half against Watford after a Man of the Match performance assisting Bernard’s goal. While Silva is hopeful that the Frenchman will be fit he does have other options. Veteran Leighton Baines is fit and ready to step in while newcomer Djibril Sidibe can play on either side. However, he may need another week or two to settle in with his new teammates.
Friday night might be the chance for the new signings to make full debuts. Alex Iwobi and Moise Kean could both be in the attack as they will have settled in by now. The question is whether Bernard will keep his place after bagging himself a goal last week.
Predicted Starting XIs
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Heaton; El Mohamady, Mings, Engels, Taylor; McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Grealish; Trezeguet, Wesley, El Ghazi.
Everton (4-3-3): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Baines; Gbamin, Gomes, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Everton
Villa looked impressive at home despite the result last weekend and Everton haven’t displayed their best football yet despite being unbeaten so far. These factors could see the game balance out as a draw under the lights at Villa Park.