Preview:  Aston Villa (v) Everton – A fixture we’ll miss, protests & playing youth.

Tuesday night marks the beginning of a series of planned protests which will see supporters leave their seats in the 74th minute.

As previously written, the ‘Villa Underground’ supports all forms of protest until the current regime is removed from our football club.

In terms of the game, we have to hope that we don’t see a repeat of the hammering we took against the red half of Merseyside or show as little fight as we did at Stoke.  The outlook, it cannot be denied, is grim & Tuesday night could be another long test of endurance.

The form table also makes painful reading once again.

Having somehow managed to claw our way back to mid-table (granted only on recent form), it at least felt like things were improving if only marginally.  Two poor results and performances later see us sitting amongst the 3 worst sides in the league once more.  It’s hard to argue the case.

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Everton have been a mixed bag, as they tend to be, but their away form is tidy if perhaps underachieving.  Their last 6 away from home have yielded two wins and 4 draws.  Draws against Man City & Chelsea, complimented with a 3-0 win at Stoke are good results.  Draws to Norwich and Bournemouth, less so.

Everton arrive neither here nor there in terms of league position, off the back of news of investment and looking to enable Martinez the chance to build.  It sits in contrast to the drawn out punishment that Randy Lerner, the reclusive and absent billionaire, is inflicting upon our once grand football club.

In terms of how things will pan out, I feel Remi Garde needs to reflect on the stifling, negative football we adopt, solely with the intention of not going behind.  We might as well be more expansive and risk taking given our plight.  Each game is the same, where periods of attempting to contain the opposition inevitably lead to us going behind and getting over-run.

We might as well try something new, rotate the dross from the current failures within the squad and allow some youth some game time.

I, like many, have been reluctant to call for the academy to be thrown into the mix until now.  Partly because I think it could hurt inexperienced players development & secondly because I’ve seen very little in terms of genuine quality come through the ranks over the years.  The cream always rises; so the saying goes.

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In terms of predictions, I would have to imagine that over 90 minutes Everton will just have too much for a defence that literally gifts chances.  Strikers like Lukaku need no second invitation.  We certainly need to avoid a 4-0 battering like the one that was handed to us at Goodison in November.  That much is clear.

As an aside, this is a fixture that I will miss when we are inevitably relegated.  Whilst not the ‘glamour’ clubs that the Premier League likes to manufacture, it has always been a match I look for on the calendar.  Two big clubs, lots of history, plenty of shared ups and downs, but always backed by vocal, local followings.  Our trajectories hereafter are, however, somewhat different.

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