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Aston Villa and Everton aim to bounce back from opening day defeats
Aston Villa to win 1-0
Tournament: Premier League 2022-2023 | Venue: Birmingham, Villa ParkBet Now
This looks like a game between two clubs who used to know how to win trophies. They were both founders of the Football League in 1888 and have won the top division on 16 occasions combined.
None of those have been since 1987, however.
Both lost their opening games of the season – Villa away to Bournemouth and Everton at home to Chelsea – and will be aiming to bounce back here with their first points of the season.
Everton looked the better of the two in their narrow defeat to Chelsea, whereas Villa were poor against Bournemouth. They need to be careful their squad does not turn against the manager after a few head-turning decisions.
There is plenty at stake here for two teams looking to push on this season.
Reasons to be cheerful:
Have big-name stars who can win a game
Will look to push on for a top 10 finish this time around
Reasons to be fearful:
Squad appears to be tense after a change of captains
Form under Gerrard has been hot and cold
Steven Gerrard’s main call this summer has been removing the captain’s armband from popular defender Tyrone Mings. He was then left out for the season’s opening game against Bournemouth.
“I’ll play him again when he looks me square in the eye and shows me he’s ready.”
These are the words of Gerrard when questioned on his decision to leave Mings out at the weekend. With Mings being a popular figure in the Villa dressing room, not to mention among the fans, it’s a decision that could backfire on Gerrard if the team don’t start to perform.
Nevertheless, he has a squad capable of delivering a top-half finish this season, and must produce better than what they showed against Bournemouth last weekend, when they were beaten 2-1.
In truth, they were worse than the scoreline suggested.
However, they’ve won four of their last five against Everton, losing none, so they should be optimistic here.
Star Man – Philippe Coutinho
The Brazilian star has blown hot and cold since joining Villa last season. He needs to produce more consistently, and has the ability to do so.
Reasons to be cheerful
Have signed Onana this week for £33m
Performance against Chelsea will have pleased Lampard
Reasons to be fearful
Poor record against Villa
Unsure of where goals will come from
Everton are, without doubt, a team in major transition.
They survived in the Premier League last season by the skin of their teeth, they sold their best player in Richarlison to Tottenham over the summer, and they have a young manager who is still to prove anything.
With the sale of Richarlison, fans will be left wondering where the goals will come from, especially with Calvert-Lewin missing the opening stages of this season through injury.
Anthony Gordon is a promising young player, but is too young and lacks the strength to get in and amongst the best defences.
One positive is how they have strengthened in defence, with the addition of Tarkowski from Burnley looking like a solid one. Alongside the likes of Mina and Godfrey, he should thrive.
Star Man – Demarai Gray
Has pace, direct running, and an eye for goal. At 26, he must start to show his abilities more consistently and he’ll get plenty of chances to do so this season.
Likely to be a scrappy encounter
Villa’s first home game of the season could inspire them
Look out for Onana’s size and power
With this representing Villa’s first chance to play in front of their home fans this season, we should see an improvement from Gerrard’s men.
Don’t expect this to be a free-flowing match, however. Both teams are short on confidence and the first goal could decide things.
The midfield battle should be interesting, particularly now Everton have Onana, who stands at nearly two metres tall.
Aston Villa to win 1-0
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