Everton V Aston Villa Preview
February 2, 2013
With a really disappointing transfer deadline day behind Everton, they must turn their attentions to league matters as they host a struggling Aston Villa outfit to Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon. Everton are coming off a hard fought 2-1 win over West Bromich Albion on Wednesday night, a result which was made even sweeter given the other results that night. For Aston Villa, well the free fall continues for the Midlands outfit, hard to imagine that Aston Villa and Everton were once considered the teams to break the top 4 stronghold a mere 3-4yrs ago, however with Lerner reigning in the spending, their progress has stopped and now see themselves in a relegation dogfight, which was compounded on Tuesday night going down 2-1 to Newcastle at Villa Park. 3pts will be vital for Everton, a win for Everton on Saturday will see Everton leapfrog Spurs into 4th and see them only 2pts behind 3rd placed Chelsea. For Villa, it is simple, they need points in order to stay in the league.
Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar mentioned the importance of the 3pts against Aston Villa saying
'We need to get maximum points from all the games. I know it`s not easy but that`s what we want and if we do that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. It could be difficult because Villa need all three points but hopefully we can treat it as normal and give our best from the first whistle. We have to work hard for each other and not take things lightly.'
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert praised the clubs supporters despite the disappointment of the 2-1 loss to Newcastle saying
"That`s the first time I have seen a standing ovation when you have been beat, especially at home. It was an incredible thing, The crowd drove it on, the lads took the confidence from it, they got the goal which certainly helps. It just seemed relentless after that. Sometimes it`s easier to play when 2-0 down. Nobody expects anything. You come out of the traps and get an early goal and then you become relentless. The first goal was the most disappointing one. The second one you hold your hand up because it`s a wonder strike."
Everton Team News:
Everton were hoping to add bodies to the squad before the deadline, however, moves for FC Twente midfielder Leroy Fer and Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo did not eventuate and Everton fans are left underwhelmed with the signing of promising right back John Stones. Although disappointing, the side received a couple of big boosts on Wednesday night with the return of Darron Gibson form a thigh injury and Kevin Mirallas having overcome a niggling and persistent hamstring injury. However, Everton will still be without the services of Seamus Coleman for another week or two as he is getting over a thigh injury and Tony Hibbert is out with a calf problem.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Distin, Heitinga, Jagielka, Fellaini, Neville, Pienaar, Osman, Mirallas, Anichebe
Player to watch: Kevin Mirallas
I am sure Everton fans were relieved to see Mirallas get through 60-65mins against West Brom. The summer signing has been hampered by persistent hamstring injuries that has restricted him to 90mins combined in the last 3 months. With Everton not managing to add to their squad on deadline day, Mirallas' return is vital for the Toffees, although I hate to say it, the old cliche of 'He will be like a new signing' can be applied to Mirallas. The Belgian, when fit, has sparkled for Everton, his combination of pace and technique has been sorely missed and if Everton harbour any hope of finishing 4th, Mirallas is going to have to stay healthy for the remainder of the season.
Aston Villa Team News:
Judging from Villa fans' reactions, they too seemed to have an underwhelming deadline day, however, they did make 2 first team additions signing midfielder Yacouba Sylla from French side Clermont as well as securing a loan deal for Spurs attacker Simon Dawkins. Whether they will be included int he squad to face Everton will be up to Lambert however. Aston Villa did receive some bad news concerning centre back Richard Dunne, Lambert revealed the Irish defender has suffered a fresh setback in his quest to return from a groin injury that has sidelined him this season and will miss the Everton match.
Possible Starting XI: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj, Agbonlahor, Westwood, Delph, N'Zogbia, Weimann, Benteke
Player to watch: Christian Benteke
The Belgian has been one of the few bright spots for Villa this season, and without his goals, I cannot imagine the state Aston Villa would be in right now. Having dealt with his international teammate Lukaku on Wednesday night, the Everton defenders will once again have to be at their best to try and stop Benteke. He is a big, strong lad, however, technically he is also pretty decent and is enjoying a very good first season in English football having already bagged 12 goals. He will undoubtedly be the main goal threat for Villa and Everton will have to keep a close eye on the Belgian throughout the match.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Should they start on Saturday, it will be Phil Neville's 300th appearance for Everton and also Marouane Fellaini's 150th start for Everton.
2. Saturday's match will be the 196th meeting between the two sides, all of which have been played in the top flight of English football and it is the most played league fixture in English football history. As for head to head, it could not be tighter, Villa lead the head to head 72 wins to 71 with both sides scoring 302 goals each.
3. Everton's win over Villa at Villa Park earlier in the season stopped a run of 12 games without a win over Villa for Everton. However, Everton have failed to keep a clean sheet against Villa in the last 17 matches.
4. It has been 26yrs since Everton last did the double over Aston Villa. Yes, the last time was in the 1986/87 season where Everton won 3-0 and 1-0.
5. These two sides are two of the more historic sides in the English game. For Everton, this is there 110th season in the top flight of English football, the most of any side in England. Aston Villa are 2nd, with 102 seasons in the top flight of English football, no other sides have reached the century mark.
Deadline day was a massive disappointment for Everton, but lets face it, it could be a lot worse, as of right now, we are sitting 5th, however, 3pts against Villa will see us leapfrog Spurs (who have a tough game away to West Brom) into 4th and 2pts from 3rd placed Chelsea, and not to mention we have regained the services of important duo Darron Gibson and Kevin Mirallas from injury, so it isn't all doom and gloom for Everton. As for the match, despite the recent form of Villa, they will still make it tough, Everton players and fans only have to look at the last time they were in the city to see they are a threat, a 3-1 win over Liverpool shouldn't be taken lightly. However, saying this, you just look at the two sides, and there is a big gap, quality wise and even more so experience wise. It will be a tough ask for Villa given Everton's home form this season, and I see Everton winning this match, as for a scoreline, I am going with a 3-0 win to the Toffees. COYB!!!! BIG 3PTS ON STAKE LADS, WIN AND WE ARE 4TH!!! COME ON LADS!!!!!