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Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Premier League
 Sunday 23 September 2007; 2:00pm
ASTON VILLA 
2-0
 EVERTON
Carew (15'), Agbonlahor (63')
Half Time: 1-0
  
Attendance: 38,235
Fixture 7
Referee: Lee Probert

Match Summary

David Moyes rang the changes... but not the one expected at right back, where Hibbert continued.  Carsley, Yakubu and McFadden were benched (dropped or squad-rotated?); Pienaar, Jagielka and Anichebe started in their stead.  Arteta, Gravesen and Howard were still out injured.  Good away support from the Blues faithful as ever, made themselves heard at the odd kick-off time of 2pm.

Everton went at Villa from the off, Yobo absolutely smashed one and Zak Knight took the full force on his head.  Aston Villa responded in a bright opening, Agbonlahor blasting the ball over the Everton bar.  Baines was taking the free kicks in place of Arteta but Villa were defending effectively and threatening to start attacking after the initial Blue surge.

A poor defensive header up in the air from Yobo came back off Baines and fell nicely for Carew to lash it home.  A poor goal to give away.  The goal buoyed the Villians and they came at Everton with some attacking verve.  Pienaar was looking to be a weak point, giving the ball away on three occasions.  Hibbert made a vital sliding challenge on Moore that led to a great Everton attack but Johnson's excellent set-up for Anichebe was mis-read by the youngster. 

Everton's possession and use of the ball out of defence was again the weakness as Villa looked a lot better in this department as the attacking surges kept coming at the Blues.  Poor passing by a number of players was the main problem as Everton continued to win the ball in defence but then gave away possession cheaply.

Johnson did well to win a free kick in a good position when he was bundled down just outside the area. But Osman drove the ball into the wall: chance gone.  Villa just came straight back at the Blues and it was more Defense: Job One, Hibbert clearing a difficult ball off the line that came at him off a post.  It was clear that Villa were controlling the game, raising the question of what might Moyes do at the break to change things?

Nothing.  As you were for the start of the second half.  Another free-kick on the edge of the area was won by Jagielka.  Johnson got it on target, but Carson made a fumbled save.  Carew had to go off injured and Everton pulled off a good move while Villa were sorting out the substitution, Johnson coming very close.  Some better work by Baines set up Osman but his shot was poor.

Then, a silly goal, looked offside.  Agbonlahor ran on to a cleared ball, dodging past the Everton backline. Slotted it home while the Everton defenders stood and stared. A mountain to climb for the Blues. David Moyes eventually brought on a fresh attack, Yakubu and McFadden replacing Anichebe and Johnson, who did not look too happy about it.

Everton improved and started to attack with more purpose as a result (so why not earlier, Moyes???) but it was all too little, too late.  Three defeats in a row... oh no, sorry one draw and two defeats, two goals conceded for the first time this season, the potential for second place becomes the reality of ninth place and that bright start to the season seems suddenly a long time ago...

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Following a disappointing and ultimately frustrating return of European football to Goodison Park on Thursday night, attentions turn back to the Premier League where Everton travel to an Aston Villa side who themselves will be looking to bounce back following a close defeat to Man City last weekend.

Everton go into the game with no fresh injury worries, but are still unlikely to see a return to the side for Arteta, Gravesen or Howard.

After a performance against Metalist on Thursday that again raised question marks over the ability of Tony Hibbert to actually play football, is there an excuse to shuffle the pack and move Neville into the right back position and bring Jagielka into central midfield with Carsley?  Or will Moyes stick with the Neville-Carsley partnership that worked so well against Tottenham at White Hart Lane last month?

Both Johnson and Yakubu had disappointing games midweek; with Johnson still without a goal this season, and the Yak looking about as interested as Moyes would be reading a joke book, will Anichebe be given the nod, having looked more like the 11M signing when he came on as a sub on Thursday?

McFadden and Osman flatter to deceive, but with no other options in midfield and the possibility of reverting to a 4-5-1 formation, dont be surprised to see them both involved from the start.  In goal, Wessels has looked decent and should have no problems continuing to deputise for Howard.

Villa will look to return to the form which accounted for Chelsea in their last home game.  Martin ONeill could name an unchanged team for the third Premier League game in a row, with Marlon Harewood out injured.

Villa are a decent side with a strong British core, so a draw would be a decent return from this game for Everton.  A win would see us push up to 2nd in the league and would consolidate a very pleasing start to our domestic campaign.  Expect a tight game, with maybe just the odd goal separating the two teams.

Steve Smith

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

Musing from the Holte End

As a Midland based toffee, I dont get to Evertons games very often, but I decided to go along to Villa Park and watch this afternoon's events unfold.  Sadly I couldnt get into the away end so I used my natural gift of having a Midlands accent to allow me to sit in the Holte End.  Boy oh boy, how grim was that?  Between having to hold in my outbursts of frustration and having to listen as endless mindless chants about Birmingham City abounded, well, let's just say it was a testing afternoon!

To the game; well, we all know the result by know, but Christ do we have a poor midfield at the moment.  Without Arteta and Gravesen, we are clueless.  Villa are a strong, pacy and composed team; we dearly needed some guile to break them down.  Watching the games you could see the variety that Villa had in their ranks that we sadly lack.  Pace down the wings courtesy of Agbonlahor and Young, with Carew an excellent focal point for their attack; he is their Duncan Ferguson.  Their midfield had a mix of composure and steel, with Gareth Barry being extremely assured in possession and able to dictate play, with Reo-Coker being an effective foil for him.

Now you may question why I am praising Villa.  For one simple reason: to highlight just what we currently lack.  Neville and Jagielka are a terrible centre-midfield pairing.  Neville worked hard and tried to use the ball well, but through a combination of a lack of options and poor technique, was found wanting.  Jagielka was woeful, every time the ball came to him he looked like he didnt know what the hell a football was, never mind what to do with it.  Osman tried and looked lively but lacks that half-yard of pace to just get ahead of his man and hit the killer ball / shot.  Pienaar was the pick of the midfielders, looking a lively, skilful and intelligent player.  Once he gets some competent players on the ball alongside him, he could prove a useful acquisition.  However, he too often had few options on midfield or in front of him.

That brings me to our frontline today.  Oh my god, what was Moyes up to?  Big Vic played well against shit-scared defenders pushed back into their own box on Thursday night.  The ball was in the air constantly and he thrived.  Today I can only think the rationale for his inclusion was due to Zat Knight (66) being a huge physical presence and Moyes was looking to unsettle him more than possibly the Yak would.  However, Villa played high up the pitch and Anichebe was effectively marshalled by Martin Laursen, an excellent and experienced defender.

The ball was lumped forwards to try and get Vic to bring others into the play, but his control is questionable and Laursen picked him off with ease.  The giant Knight, however, was confronted by a blatantly off-colour AJ who, standing at 57, was easy pickings whenever we tossed the ball up for him to compete with Knight.  Is Moyes blind?  Stupid?  On crack?  A simple instruction to move into positions so that the strikers swapped markers would have helped. 

AJ is clearly not at the races; the chance he missed when teed up in the second half is symptomatic with his malaise he lacks confidence and belief.  I suspect Yakubu would have hammered it straight in; you could see AJ get caught in two minds and then screw it wide.  The Yak looked lively when he came on, what we needed: a clever player with better technique than Anichebe, what we needed against a defender of Laursens quality.

On a plus note, apart from the terrible clearing header that led to the first goal, Yobo looked class and Lescott handled Carew well until he went off injured; Carew is a major nightmare and was well marshalled. Our new German keeper looked shaky though, flapping at crosses and not coming off his line fast enough for the second goal.  Having said that, the whole defence were really caught napping with the ball over the top. Wake up boys!

Lessons to be learned then, i.e. dont stick your short-arse forward onto their giant centre-back.  I hope and prey Moyes gets some of the injured lads back, and fast!

Andy Morden

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ASTON VILLA (4-4-2)
  Carson
  Mellberg
  Laursen
  Knight
  Bouma
  Reo-Coker
  Barry (c)
  Carew (56' Gardner)
  Moore (81' Harewood)
  Young
  Agbonlahor :62'
  Subs not used
  Davies
  Taylor
  Maloney
 
EVERTON (4-4-2)
  Wessels
  Hibbert
  Yobo
  Lescott
  Baines
  Pienaar
  Neville
  Jagielka
  Osman
  Johnson (73' McFadden)
  Anichebe (73' Yakubu)
  Subs not used
  Ruddy
  Carsley
  Valente
  Unavailable
  Howard (injured)
  Arteta (injured)
  Gravesen (injured)
  Cahill (injured)
  Vaughan (injured)

Premier League Scores
Saturday 22 September 2007
Arsenal 5-0 Derby
Fulham 3-3 Man City
Liverpool 0-0 Birmingham
Middlesbro 2-2 Sunderland
Reading 2-1 Wigan
Sunday 23 September 2007
Newcastle 3-1 West Ham
Aston Villa 2-0 Everton
Blackburn 0-0 Portsmouth
Bolton 0-1 Tottenham
Man Utd 2-0 Chelsea
 
Premier League Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 16
2 Man Utd 14
3 Man City 13
4 Liverpool 12
5 Chelsea 11
6 Newcastle 11
7 West Ham 10
8 Everton 10
9 Blackburn 10
10 Aston Villa 10
11 Wigan 8
12 Birmingham 8
13 Middlesbro 8
14 Sunderland 8
15 Portsmouth 7
16 Reading 7
17 Tottenham 7
18 Fulham 6
19 Derby 4
20 Bolton 3
After 23 Sep 2007


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