Aston Villa will try to collect their first points of the season when they host Everton on Villa Park on Friday night. The Birmingham side has returned to the EPL with plans of securing survival as soon as possible. However, their early results show just how hard this task will actually be.
Everton on the other hand, started the season quite brightly. They managed to keep two clean sheets and collect four points in their opening two matches. Marco da Silva’s side looks compact and tight at the moment. They may not have scored tons of goals, but their defence seems water tight and their midfield is very organized.
Unremarkable Return to the EPL
Villa fans hoped that their team’s return to the Premier League would be better than what they saw in the initial couple of rounds. Dean Smith’s side made a lot of individual mistakes in both the match against Tottenham and the one against Bournemouth.
These mistakes rarely go unpunished in the top flight and Villa will have to eradicate them pretty quickly from their game if they want to survive. The EPL is at a different level from the Championship and as Grealish and co realized quite quickly, most mistakes are punished with goals at this level.
Too Many New Players
If there is one thing which new Premier League teams have learnt so far is that signing a whole new starting eleven never pans out well. Fulham did this last year and had absolutely zero success using that strategy. This was in spite of the fact that all of Fulham’s new signing were actually decent individual players and cost the club approximately £100 million. However, when it came to team harmony and cohesion there was none as, then Slavisha Jokanovic’s team, started the season with back to back defeats and were eventually relegated.
Something similar seems to be happening at Villa Park. Aston Villa signed no less than 12 players in an extremely busy summer for the club. To acquire them Villa had to pay well over £100 million. That’s a lot of new players to integrate in a new team, but Dean Smith seems to think that’s not the case as he has immediately thrown them into action. What’s more, seven of those new signings started against Bournemouth.
These types of summer shopping sprees have rarely born any fruit and Villa fans are right to be afraid for their club’s survival prospects at the moment.
The Stats are in Everton’s Favour
Aston Villa started the season badly, but that is only a continuation of how they had played in previous seasons. In 2016, Villa’s last year in the top flight before their promotion, the Birmingham side played some terrible football too. In fact, they have lost 14 of their last 15 EPL matches and that is something that should seriously worry their fans.
Their head-to-head matches with Everton follow a similarly depressing pattern as well. In their last six EPL meetings, Villa won only once and lost 5 of those matches. Interestingly enough, five of those six matches finished in over 2.5 goals and four of those matches had goals as early as the 20th minute.
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Everton’s Positive Start
Everton have been far better this season than their Friday rivals. Silva’s side is one of the best defensively organized units in the EPL as only Manchester City have kept more clean sheets in 2019 than them. The defending champions haven’t conceded in 13 outings in 2019 while the Liverpool side has kept 12 clean sheets so far.
This is a surprising statistic when you consider that Everton were blamed for investing too much money in their midfield and attack and were accused of neglecting the defence. What’s more, Silva has been blamed for being a fair weather manager ever since his Hull days and people have been saying that he only focuses on attack and neglects the defensive duties of his teams.
However, this cannot be further from the truth as Everton have shown in the past year. All of their current defensive players are proving to be some of the best in their positions in the EPL and the results back this up.
Lucas Digne for example, impresses week-in week-out and puts in performances unlike any other left back in the EPL. If he continues playing like this, Everton will soon start to receive quite a lot of offers for the young Frenchman.
And it is not just Digne who is impressing. Seamus Coleman has long been considered as one of the best right backs in the EPL and if it wasn’t for his serious injury last season, he certainly would have reached even greater heights.
In addition to Digne and Coleman, Yeri Mina and Michael Keane are also quite the defensive beasts. The Colombian and English centre backs form an impenetrable wall in front of Jordan Pickford and their two clean sheets at the start of this season show that they are continuing where they left off last year.
This successful partnership is certainly pleasing for Toffees’ fans to see as they were seriously afraid that losing Kurt Zouma will affect their defence significantly. However, both Mina and Keane seem very imposing right now and Everton fans are already forgetting about the Chelsea player.
Aston Villa may have added 12 new players to their roster, but it seems like it was Everton that did the better business over the summer. The Toffees managed to add several quality players to their squad and all of them look like smart pieces of business.
Losing Idrissa Gueye was one of the hardest blows that Silva suffered in the transfer window as the midfielder was instrumental last year in shielding the defense and contributing in the transition from defense to attack.
However, in Jean-Philippe Gbamin from Mainz, Everton seem to have a like for like replacement for the PSG midfielder. Morgan Schneiderlin’s sending off in the first match of the season meant that Gbamin had his taste of the EPL sooner than expected, but judging from these early days he seems like a quality signing.
In addition to Gbamin, Everton also made the signing of Andre Gomes permanent and that will certainly help in Gbamin’s adaptation to Silva’s requirements. The Portuguese was bought by Barcelona for a reason and his class is there for all to see.
Fabian Delph has also been brought in to solidify Everton’s midfield, which on paper is one of the strongest ones in the EPL as it contains both proven players and some highly promising young prospects.
Finally, Everton also bought two attacking players with huge potential in Alex Iwobi and Juventus’ loanee Moise Kean. These two prospects can take Everton’s attacking play to a whole new level once they settle. In fact, if they perform as well as they are expected to, Everton can look forward to upsetting the balance in the Top 6. An attack containing Kean, Richarlison, Iwobi, and backed by players such as Sigurdsson and Bernard is enough to instil fear in any opponent.
Everton to Win Comfortably
All of this means that Everton will enter this match as the favourites to win it. In fact, if it weren’t for Villa’s home advantage the odds would have probably been much smaller for Everton to win this one.
Marco da Silva’s side don’t concede goals easily and it is hard to see how Aston Villa’s attack could threaten them here. The Birmingham side may have added the Brazilian Wesley to their attacking options, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that their current front three scored a total of 24 goals last season and they did this in much weaker leagues than the EPL.
This means that Aston Villa are unlikely to pose any threat to Everton and Silva’s side are likely to add one more clean sheet to their impressive record. In fact, this clean sheet might be the easiest one of all they have recently kept.
However, considering how clean sheets don’t win you games, Everton will also have to produce a goal or two to win at Villa Park. So far this season only Bernard has scored for Everton and that should be a slight concern. In spite of this, Everton’s existing and new attacking players will click sooner or later and that might as well happen at Villa Park.