In the early kick off, Villa head to Goodison Park to visit a beleaguered Everton. Our hosts have dispensed with manager Rafa Benitez following an alarming defeat to Dean Smith’s Norwich. Whilst there will be no new permanent boss in the home dugout this afternoon, Steven Gerrard will have to overcome caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson who assumes his second spell in charge.
Villa are buoyed by a late resurgence against Manchester United, with Philippe Coutinho providing an immediate insight into his qualities. The Brazilian assisted and scored in a superb debut cameo to earn Gerrard a point and bring to an end a 3 game losing streak.
Gerrard has a number of factors to ponder, with Villa seeming to regularly need a half-time dressing down before kicking on. The former Liverpool midfielder will be keen to see Jacob Ramsey replicate his second half performance against United over 90 minutes as well as a number of his team-mates cutting out unforced errors.
A big bonus is the return of John McGinn from suspension. The Scotland captain was a big miss last weekend, and the former Hibernian mans grit will surely be called upon as Ferguson looks to lift Everton’s fortunes.
Close examination will again fall upon Villa’s attack, with the combination of Watkins and Ings to date appearing awkward to date. Watkins was out of sorts against Man Utd, whilst Ings will be looking to find opportunities and goals such as the type recently demonstrated against Brentford.
A final overlooked area will be Villa’s overlapping fullbacks. Cash has energy and determination nailed, but now needs to add composure to his crossing. Digne who immediately offered improvement over Targett at left-back, returns to face his old club just days after a £25m move to B6.
VILLA TEAM NEWSEmbed from Getty Images
Cash, Konsa, Mings (Captain), Digne
McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsay, Buendia, Coutinho
On the bench for Villa today:
Olsen, Kesler, Hause, Targett, Young, Iroegbunam, Sanson, Chukwuemeka, Ings.
Whilst we expect Everton to be lifted after ditching Benitez for stand-in boss Ferguson, Villa need to be ruthless and will surely recognise the need to put points on the board. A win would haul Villa back into mid-table and provide a platform into a group of winnable fixtures from which to hopefully drive positive form for the remainder of the campaign.
Score Prediction: Everton 0-2 Aston Villa
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