Everton head into Saturday’s match against struggling Aston Villa hoping to register back-to-back wins as they continue their push for European football next season, says Matthew Desai.
Whether that will be on Sky Sports or Channel Five remains unclear, but The Blues are unbeaten in six, and after an underwhelming transfer deadline day, boss David Moyes knows exactly what resources he has at his disposal to mount the assault.
Aston Villa are massively struggling in the Premier League this season. With very little business carried out in the transfer window, Paul Lambert’s obscenely young side, who haven’t won in seven league games, face a difficult task in keeping one of the top flight’s mainstays at the summit of English football.
Everton secured a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday night to move them to within a point of fourth spot, thanks to a first-half brace from Leighton Baines. The full-back finished a move he started when he larruped home from Leon Osman’s pass on the half-hour mark, before converting from the spot after Victor Anichebe was floored moments before the interval. However, The Blues weren’t to record a third successive clean sheet, and John Heitinga’s second-half error allowed Shane Long to head in, ensuring a nervy final twenty-five minutes for the Merseysiders.
The Villans were beaten 2-1 at home to Newcastle during the week, putting them in deeper trouble and landing them in nineteenth place. Yohan Cabaye’s measured top corner strike added to an earlier Papiss Cisse finish to put The Magpies in a comfortable position at the break. The visitors didn’t have it all their own way though, and moments after half-time Christian Benteke pulled one back from the spot, but it was only to be a consolation.
The hosts welcomed back Darron Gibson on Wednesday as a second-half substitute, and after coming through unscathed, the midfielder now pushes for a start at the weekend. Kevin Mirallas is likely to continue out wide after making an unlikely start against Albion, while Victor Anichebe would count himself hard done by not retain his place spear-heading The Toffees’ attack.
Villa could have Fabian Delph back as he recovers from an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Chris Herd (foot), Marc Albrighton (ankle), Gary Gardener (knee) and Richard Dunne (groin) are all unavailable for the foreseeable future.
On paper this should be one of the weekend’s home bankers, unbeaten in six, and at home, does more than trump winless in seven. Unfortunately on this occasion, football isn’t played on paper, and Villa will arrive at Goodison knowing they have nothing to lose, and looking at results this season, these are the games where they pick up points. Everton do however possess a better team, are in much better form, and have been almost formidable on home soil over the past twelve months. It’s been twenty-six years since The Blues’ last double over Aston Villa, you would like to think that number decreases to big, fat zero on Saturday afternoon.