Everton vs Aston Villa
There’s good news and bad news on the injuries front. While it looks like Vlaar might be making a return at Goodison, Senderos and Delph won’t be featuring, with the latter potentially facing a lengthy absence. Villa have a little more squad depth in comparison to previous seasons, but Everton will represent a tough task for Lambert’s depleted side.
Lambert on new Grealish deal
“It’s great for Jack, too, to have it all settled.
“He has so much to learn and so much potential but that’s what it is.
“As long as he doesn’t get carried away and keeps his feet on the ground and keeps working hard, because he will have blows throughout his career at times and you’ve just got to come through them.”
Lambert on Everton
“Everton are a good side. I think they’re in a false position in the table at the moment. They’ve got some really good players there. It may not be the start they wanted but it just goes to show that the league is tough.
“They’re a really good side so we’re under no illusions how hard it’s going to be.”
Martinez on Aston Villa
“We respect Villa a lot and we know Paul Lambert is a manager who knows how to get a team drilled and how to play as a team. He gets teams playing good, brave, exciting football. The way he has gone through the transition at Villa has been very impressive.
“When you have players like Christian Benteke, Andreas Weimann, Gabby Agbonlahor and Charles N’Zogbia – they are players that have got really good experience in the league and know how to hurt teams.”
10th September 2011 Everton 2 Aston Villa 2
A terrific goal from Petrov and a strike from Agbonlahor contributed to a decent draw early on in the McLeish era.
Everton – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 1, L 3
Villa – Last five matches away: W 2, L 3
Villa have only lost once in the last five visits to Goodison Park.
One to Watch
Romelu Lukaku – the Belgian striker has failed to justify his £28 million price-tag so far this season but is a quality player who has a good record against Villa.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
It always pays to be wary when approaching a game against a team out of form. Despite Everton’s surprising 17th place position they tend to get results against Villa, and have only lost once in the last 11 Premier League meetings. Lambert has got a lot right this season, including the gradual reintroduction of Christian Benteke, but has never quite been able to crack the Everton boss – he’s failed to beat Martinez in the league in six attempts.
Despite poor results Everton have at least been getting goals which is something Villa have struggled with – we’ve gone three games without a goal and have had only managed 10 shots on target seven games into the season!
Matches against Everton are always closely fought and five of the last seven meetings have been a draw, a result that might be particularly difficult given our recent form and absentees.
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
With Delph out there’s a reasonable chance Carlos Sanchez will take his place. The Colombian international struggled during the game against Arsenal but was, to be fair, thrown in at the last minute. If he does start against Everton, hopefully we’ll see signs of adaptation and a defensive display that lives up to his La Liga and international reputation.
Despite not seeing much of the ball, Benteke instantly lifted Villa supporters against Man City and if he does indeed start on Saturday, a goal would be a terrific way to boost his confidence as he hopes to get back to his best.
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Even without Vlaar Villa looked OK against Man City and the scoreline didn’t reflect the decent chances Lambert’s men had during the match. Up against a struggling Everton side we could finally take the initiative, after a run of tough games that have had us struggling to maintain possession.
Villa’s recent shyness in front of goal has been disappointing given how well we took the limited scoring chances early on in the season, but we can take heart from past Everton encounters. Agbonlahor has scored seven goals against Everton, more than he has against any other team, and he’s netted in his last two visits to Goodison.
With Vlaar hopefully back to steady the ship (we’ve won 32% of games with him playing compared to 14% without) and with a difficult run of fixtures over, a return to defensive resilience could be the key against an Everton side low on confidence.
Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball