The FourFourTwo Preview: Everton vs Aston Villa
How brittle are the Toffees? How ruthless the Villans?
And the People did weep. The outfit popularly described by David Moyes as The People's Club were put firmly back in their place in Tuesday's Mersey derby, thrashed 4-0 at Anfield to slip four points behind their fourth-placed neighbours.
- Liverpool 4–0 Everton (Prem)
- Stevenage 0–4 Everton (FAC)
- Everton 2–0 Norwich (Prem)
- Everton 4–0 QPR (FAC)
- Stoke 1–1 Everton (Prem)
ASTON VILLA FORM
- Aston Villa 4–3 WBA (Prem)
- Liverpool 2–2 Aston Villa (Prem)
- Aston Villa 1–2 Arsenal (Prem)
- Aston Villa 1–2 Sheff Utd (FAC)
- S'land 0–1 Aston Villa (Prem)
Away from the numbers, Roberto Martinez may worry about the effect such a slapping might have on his players' confidence. Moreover, main striker Romelu Lukaku was stretchered off, leaving something of a hole up front.
That said, the big Belgian had only scored once in his last 10 games, and Everton have been ticking along nicely without his goals: the Liverpool loss was only their second since the October 5 defeat at Manchester City.
Villa have their own big Belgian up top – Christian Benteke, finding his way back to scoring form with goals against Arsenal and Liverpool.
And they need him on top form, having registered just one win in nine before Wednesday's weird win over West Brom in a division which seems to get more compressed by the week.
Despite that win, Villa have been happier on the road this season: only seven teams have a better record on their travels, and only Chelsea have conceded fewer away goals. Villa won't expect to see much ball against an Everton side who habitually dominate ball retention – not many visitors get 61% possession at Anfield – but they will hope to maximise their chances when they do come, either on the break or at set-pieces, with Grant Holt added to the aerial armoury.
With Lukaku out, Everton may give Lacina Traore his debut, although the 6ft 8in Ivorian striker has been struggling with a hamstring injury since joining on loan from Monaco. Martinez may have to continue without Sylvain Distin (knock), Seamus Coleman (hamstring) and Gerard Deulofeu (hamstring).
Villa have their own missing forward, Gabby Agbonlahor (ankle), but should welcome back Chris Herd and Joe Bennett from hamstring and back problems respectively.
Player to watch: John Stones (Everton)
Taking the opportunity provided by injuries to others, Stones has started five of Everton's last six games (and came on in the other), his accurate passing and decision-making prompting Martinez to say: "John will develop into a special centre-half for England." He has looked slightly less certain since switching from centre-back to right-back, with a shaky start at Stevenage and a troublesome time against Daniel Sturridge in midweek; it will be interesting to see how he fares against the direct running of Andy Weimann, especially if he is asked to ape the overlapping of usual right-back Seamus Coleman.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Villa 0–2 Everton (Prem, Oct 13)
- Everton 3–3 Villa (Prem, Feb 13)
- Villa 1–3 Everton (Prem, Aug 12)
- Villa 1–1 Everton (Prem, Jan 12)
- Everton 2–2 Villa (Prem, Sep 11)
Although different in their tactics, Martinez and Lambert have similar groundings: after a Euro-trotting playing career, a lower-league managerial learning curve, promotions and establishment in the Premier League before a move to a perceived bigger club. It's intriguing to think what might have happened had Martinez not elected to stay at Wigan in June 2011, turning down Villa – who instead appointed Lambert's predecessor Alex McLeish.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Everton have lost just 1 of their last 20 Premier League games at Goodison Park (W14 D5 L1).
- Everton have scored first in their last 7 home matches against middle-third teams.
- Villa have lost 0 of the last 7 Premier League visits to Goodison Park (W2 D5) but the last 4 have been draws.
- Villa have had Over 2.5 goals in their last 9 away matches against top-six teams.
- Grant Holt has scored in 3 of his 4 Premier League appearances against Everton.
- Everton are looking for their 300th Premier League win, something Aston Villa achieved in midweek.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Losing to Everton won't define Villa's season, whereas the Toffees need a reaction and should get one. 2-1.