Result: Aston Villa 2-0 Everton
What went well? And what didn’t?
On Friday night Villa played Everton, the 221st instalment of this fixture between the sides, which makes it the most played fixture in English football.
The game saw starting debuts for Frederic Guilbert and Jota for Villa.
Prior to the game, Everton had played 2, won 1, drew 1 while conceding 0 in the process.
This was set up to be a big night under the lights at Villa Park.
The game finished 2-0 with Wesley getting his first goal for the club following his record move from Club Brugge.
Play-off hero El Ghazi also scored very late in the affair to secure the first 3 points of the season for the home side.
Although Villa won the game, stats were in favour of Everton as they pushed to pick up some points.
Everton dominated possession with 65% compared to Villa’s 35%.
Villa had no corners and had 5 less shots.
Despite having better stats, Villa were more efficient with 43% shot accuracy, whereas Everton had an 8% shot accuracy.
As well as this Everton had 0 shots from inside the 6-yard box and 42% of shots from outside the box.
When compared to Villa this is much worse as they had 14% inside the 6-yard box and 29% from inside the box.
Whoscored.com rated Villa’s highest player at 7.9 out of 10 whereas Everton’s was a 7.0.
What went well?
Wesley had been criticised by pundits for his performances against Bournemouth and Tottenham, but against Everton he was unplayable and got a lot of praise as a result of his display.
He took 2 shots, 1 was blocked and the other the Brazilian scored from.
Wesley made 20 passes with an 80% percent accuracy.
The former Club Brugge man’s passing ability and hold up play also brought others into the attack. We witnessed the makings of a good partnership with Jota, who he linked up with many times to good effect, notably for the opening goal.
When comparing his stats to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Wesley was better in almost every aspect other than winning the ball in the air. This is very encouraging as Calvert-Lewin has had a few seasons in the Premier League and has much more experience of the division than Wesley.
If Wesley can continue to play as he did against Everton, I’m sure that he will be a very effective force in the Premier League this season, much like Christian Benteke was when he joined Villa as then unknown quantity.
Centre Back Partnership
Since the first game of the season Tyrone Mings and Bjorn Engels have formed a formidable partnership, impressing against Tottenham, but especially against Everton.
In pre-season some people didn’t believe that paying £20 million for Mings would be worth it with his injury record and only having featured for half a season on loan in the Championship for Villa. Engels being a starter in the Premier League was also questioned in certain quarters, often pointing to the Belgian’s very limited experience in elite leagues.
Despite originally being questioned by pundits and fans, both have started the campaign strongly, they have both been colossal as a partnership making a total of 13 blocks, 8 interceptions, 5 tackles and 60 clearances.
Against Everton they both made a goal-saving tackle each, enabling Villa to a first clean sheet of the 2019/20 campaign.
There were many key events that Mings and Engels were involved in to help us win the game. Examples of this included Engels block from Calvert-Lewin in the first half and Mings clearing up after Iwobi hit the post.
I think that without this centre back partnership, Villa’s life would have been much harder, as we could have found ourselves like Norwich, with a high number of goals already conceded (8).
Our centre-halves were helped against the Toffees by good performances from Heaton, Guilbert and Taylor but they provided the foundation and confidence throughout the team that will help ease pressure on the forward(s) as well as the defence.
There remains much talk amongst supporters of Jack Grealish breaking into the England squad. However, on current showings, I feel that Mings is more likely to be called up by Gareth Southgate.
What Could Be Better?
Positioning at certain points.
Although there were very few downsides to the performance, at points I was very nervous at points as I felt that our positioning could have been better.
Lucas Digne was given far too much space throughout the game, Jota was frequently caught in 2 minds whether to track Digne or press higher up. We were fortunate that this wasn’t exploited, as against better quality opposition we could potentially be punished as a result.
For most of the second half, although it ultimately proved effective, we played a very deep line and didn’t get out of defence very often. We saw the impact that this had in the Tottenham defeat; it can be very dangerous tactic to adopt. If we play like that we could be punished especially when big chances pop up (Iwobi hitting the post & Walcott’s miss) and could have easily been converted.
I think that if we perform as well as we played against Everton, we will pick up points against some of the leagues ‘better’ sides.
We will also need to alter our game to play against other teams that are lower in the table. We cannot be seen to be one dimensional or worked out by our opponents in advance.
It will be interested to see how we will approach teams who will be lower in the table, as we haven’t yet played anyone who will likely be impacted by relegation come the end of the season. These sides don’t generally play as expansive a game, inviting us to come out of our shell, but which can in turn leave us vulnerable to the counter.
Ultimately we must though demonstrate the same attacking and defensive prowess that was shown against Everton and take this into our upcoming games.