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Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Premier League
Sunday 13 May 2021; 6:00pm
Aston Villa
0 0
Everton
 
Half Time: 0 - 0 
 
Attendance: BCD
Fixture 35
Referee: Martin Atkinson

Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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ASTON VILLA
  Martinez
  Cash (El Mohamedy 45' +2)
  Konsa
  Mings
  Targett
  Luiz
  McGinn booked
  Barkley (Ramsey 65')
  Traoré booked (Grealish 72')
  El Ghazi
  Davis
  Subs not used
  Steer
  Nakamba
  Hause
  Philogene-Bidace
  Chukwuemeka
  Wesley

EVERTON
  Pickford
  Holgate
  Keane
  Godfrey
  Coleman (Iwobi 75')
  Digne
  Allan
  Doucouré
  Sigurdsson booked (Gomes 67')
  Richarlison
  Calvert-Lewin
  Subs not used
  Olsen
  Virginia
  Nkounkou
  Davies
  Delph
  Bernard
  King
  Unavailable
  Gbamin (injured)
  Rodriguez (injured)
  Branthwaite (loan)
  Gibson (loan)
  Gordon (loan)
  Kean (loan)
  Simms (loan)
  Tosun (loan)
  Walcott (loan)

Match Stats

Everton
Possession
58%
42%
Shots
13
15
Shots on target
2
5
Corners
9
1

Premier League Scores
Saturday 16 January
Fulham 0-1 Chelsea
Leeds 0-1 Brighton
Leicester 2-0 Southampton
West Ham 1-0 Burnley
Wolves 2-3 West Brom
Sunday 17 January
Liverpool 0-0 Man United
Man City 4-0 C Palace
Sheff United 1-3 Tottenham
Monday 18 January
Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle
Thursday 13 May
Aston Villa 0-0 Everton


Match Report

“Is there an opposite to ‘The School of Science’?”

If anything sums up the baffling deficiencies in the way this Everton side plays football, that tweet that crossed the timeline midway through the second half of what would end up being a second goalless draw away from home in four for the Blues more or less did. Once more, the task of reconciling what was on display from those in amber shirts at Villa Park with the decorated manager standing in the touchline was a mind-bending one: how can a side overseen by Carlo Ancelotti look so dreadful with the ball at their feet at times?

From the now-familiar inconsistency in being able to effectively move the ball through the lines — there were times in this match where Everton were pretty good with their distribution — to poor service from the flanks and a frustrating reluctance or lack of confidence to test the goalkeeper in promising areas, this was another difficult watch for Evertonians who were, no doubt, tearing their hair out as an opportunity to move into the European places slipped through the club’s fingers.

Those attacking limitations and the passivity of Everton’s play in general were unlikely to have changed in the few days since they reignited their European hopes with a hugely important win at West Ham and, once again, the Ancelotti game plan that has been deployed for the past few months away from home was employed.

The Blues set out to contain and stifle what their hosts could muster in the absence of the suspended Ollie Watkins and, from the starting XI at least, the unfit Jack Grealish. The relatively untried Keenan Davis led the line for Villa with Bertrand Traoré roaming off the right flank and Ross Barkley charged with being the creative presence in midfield.

The former Everton midfielder was poor on the day and was hooked midway through the second half and Traoré was largely kept subdued by Everton’s dogged back line but with their hosts effectively nullified, the Toffees found the going tough when the onus was on them to be on the front foot. With the score goalless heading into the closing stages, the urgency of the situation was finally reflected to a degree in their play but in the end they didn’t trouble Emiliano Martinez enough in the Villa goal.

Nevertheless, the Argentine was probably the difference on the day thanks to a reflex save at his near post that denied Ben Godfrey his first Everton goal early in the second half after an opening 45 minutes that had been short on goalmouth incident.

Carlo Ancelotti had been able to welcome Abdoulaye Doucouré back to the starting XI following a two-month absence through injury and he came in at the expense to Tom Davies while Mason Holgate replaced the injured Yerry Mina in a three-man central defensive unit.

The visitors followed an established pattern of safety and containment for much of a first half that was short on entertainment and goalmouth incident. Seamus Coleman clipped a ball in for Calvert-Lewin but there wasn't enough pace on the delivery for him to get enough power with his header and Martinez made a comfortable save with a quarter of an hour gone.

Two minutes later, Villa should have taken the lead when Douglas Luiz evaded Godfrey in the box following a corner and centred for Tyrone Mings but the defender planted his header wide of the goal with Jordan Pickford gambling in the other direction.

Gylfi Sigurdsson had a direct free-kick easily caught, Richarlison dug out a shot 10 minutes before the break that flew off target from 18 yards out and Lucas Digne caused momentary panic in the home defence when his deep cross almost grazed the bar.

As they needed to, Everton showed more intent in the second half, particularly as the game wore on and remained goalless but they struggled to get things right in attacking areas.

Doucouré miscued as the Toffees over-elaborated on the edge of the box and the ball deflected away in the 46th minute and Calvert-Lewin forced a save from Martinez before being flagged offside by the slenderest of margins.

It was Godfrey who came closest to winning the match, however, when Coleman was shoved over by John McGinn midway inside the Villa half and Sigurdsson whipped a free-kick to the back post that Godfrey met on the volley but Martinez palmed it behind to prevent it flying inside his near post.

Pickford fisted an Anwar El Ghazi free-kick away to safety at one end before Gomes came on for Sigurdsson and almost immediately had a chance to break the deadlock but smashed a rising, 20-yard shot over the bar, although a simple pass to the wide-open Richarlison would have been a far better option.

Then, after Alex Iwobi had replaced Coleman, Gomes had an even better chance when Richarlison cut the ball back to him after charging down the channel but the Portuguese's side-foot finish was blocked. Ironically, the player Everton probably would have preferred in that situation was Sigurdsson, the man Gomes had replaced.

Calvert-Lewin almost got in as he tried to round Martinez but he couldn't stop the ball crossing the byline while the goalkeeper did well to cover his goal as the England striker rose with a trademark back-post header to meet another Digne cross which proved to be the last real chance for Everton to grab the precious points.

From a footballing perspective, Everton have been a lot worse this season, particularly at home, but there were just too many instances where Ancelotti’s players either didn’t seem capable of turning possession into chances, either because they lacked confidence or simply because they were so poor where it mattered in the final third.

Deliveries from the flanks missed their mark or lacked pace, risk/reward was too often eschewed in favour of safety particularly when it came to committing enough players forward and the lack of chemistry or common wavelength between Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin is a mounting concern. Finally, with so much riding on a victory, it was curious that the manager left Josh King on the bench given how close he came to opening his Blues account last week at West Ham.

So whereas the Toffees could have put themselves in the driving seat where the Europa Conference League is concerned at least, they will now need to get as many points as they can from the final three games while waiting in help from results elsewhere if they are to participate in Continental football next season.

The debate over whether European football is a help (in terms of attracting players and gaining experience) or a hindrance (in terms of the scheduling and extra load on the squad) will run but there is no question which outcome Ancelotti will prefer. His ability to finally solve the conundrum of his team’s form in an empty Goodison Park may well be the deciding factor.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

With their European hopes very much alive following their narrow victory at West Ham on Sunday, Everton are on the road again as they travel to Aston Villa looking for what would be a club record-equalling 12th away win of the season.

Everton are without James Rodriguez again for the trip to Villa Park and Yerry Mina will also be sidelined for the game. Mina was forced off at Upton Park on Sunday.

In midfield, Abdoulaye Doucouré starts for the first time in weeks after being given an additional few days' rest by not being used at West Ham with Tom Davies dropping back to the bench and Gylfi Sigurdsson still expected to be the creative force in attack.

After dicing with danger at West Ham by naming only one goalkeeper on the subs bench, Carlo Ancelotti reverts to the safety of two again by naming both Virginia and Olsen... just in case.

Everton kicked off and — you guessed it — the ball was hoofed straight out of play conceding possession to Villa! Coleman regained the ball but drove backwards all the way to the goaline, unable to pass, and a corner conceded!!! But thankfully Barkley's delivery failed to meet the first man.

Villa took confidence from this start, with Everton relying of course on a very solid defence and no real conviction to play the ball forward. Finally, after 10 minutes Godfrey inspired a forward move but Coleman crossed too close to Martinez.

Traore took a first-time shot off a hard low cross but it was easy for Pickford to collect. Everton put together another attack 5 mins later but it was hard for Calvert-Lewin to get enough power on the header after some slow build-up play.

A wicked cross in from Targett at the other end forced Digne to head out for a corner and, on the second phase, Ings crouched to head a foot outside the post with Everton defence ball-watching. Certainly a massive let-off.

A fantastic long ball down the right wing was crossed to pick out Calvert-Lewin but he must have gone too far and could not readjust. El Ghazi had a pop that was high and wide.

Things started to open up a little more after a cagey first quarter, with the feeling that a goal could easily come from either side... or neither side. McGuinn took out Allan but escaped a card. Digne got called for colliding with Traore, the set-piece guided behind by Richarlison for a Villa corner that came to nothing.

Then it was Everton's turn for a dangerous set-piece after Richarlison took a sniper's bullet to the foot, Sigurdsson obligingly curved the free-kick into the waiting arms of Martinez. Everton were playing forward a bit more, but still not keeping the ball well enough as Godfrey had to concede another corner, with the increasing fear that Villa might get one of them right. Thankfully not.

At the other end, Richarlison spooned a shot well wide. Villa got some decent ball but Barkley tripped over the ball twice in succession rather than scoring, which was nice of him.

A better Everton move with some good side switches was not far from Calvert-Lewin coming in late at the far post. Godfrey picked the pocket of a Villa player and expected Sigurdsson to carry the play forward but Sigurdsson incredibly played it back to Pickford. Still an attack of sorts developed... but not a decent chance on goal.

It was end-to-end in a polding sort of way, Villa getting yet another corner, Barkley setting up Luiz for a wayward volley. Traore was booked for a dive, trying to win a penalty. A yellow card and spot-on per the replay, while Digne had been poleaxed by Cash following through on a clearance, needing some treatment before the break.

Richarlison was marshalled goalwards by two defenders, Konsa getting a little testy, will both Cash and Calvert-Lewin needing the sponge. It was more serious for Cash and his hamstring, Elmohamady on in his place for 15 seconds before the half-time whistle.

Things resumed in similar vein although Calvert-Lewin did seem to almost beat the offside trap, but not quite. His pass to Marinez was poor. He got a chance for redemption... and kicked the ball too far ahead to follow up with a shot.

A distant set-piece was floated in by Sigurdsson to Godfrey at the far post and his clever shot was going in but Martinez batted it behind. Martinez was impeded by Holgate on Digne's corner.

Everton were now swinging the ball in with greater frequency until Sigurdsson cynically pulls back Luiz — why do players do this knowing they will get an automatic card? The pace had definitely gone up a notch... from sloth to hedgehog. And the handbags came out too at another Villa corner. This one was the most dangerous of all and it almost led to a Villa goal.

Villa were granted another set-piece, Michael Keane giving it away. El Ghazi tested Pickford, who elected to punch for yet another Villa corner, which Traore skied from the 18-yard line.

FOllwoing the low-key ding-dong pattern of the match, it was the Everton's turn for another tempting free-kick after Calvert-Lewin was fouled but Holgate headed Digne's floated effort nicely to Martinez. That was the cue for Barkley to depart.

The supremely uncreative Gylfi Sigurdsson was then replaced by the equally uncreative André Gomes at what would normally be a critical juncture in the match. Gomes immediately created and then blew a wonderful chance by lashing the ball way off traget.

Ramsey won a corner at the other end that Everton ponderously cleared as Grealish was finally readied for his much-hyped return, with 20 minutes left. Grealish inspired Villa forward for another corner, headed wide by Elmohamady. Coleman gave way to Iwobi for his big chance to inspire a win for Everton...

Something approaching an Everton counter-attack saw a great set-up for Gomes, but Elmohamady toe-poked his shot away from goal. Grealish was threatening again but Doucoure stopped him as El Ghazi skied his shot. Everton attacked but Gomes passed to a defender.

Doucoure tried to play in Calvert-Lewin and it almost worked... but not quite. With 5 minutes left, could either of these team fashion a gioal? Calvert-Lewin beat his marker but could not beat Martinez, who anticipated excactly where the Everton man would direct his goalbound header, and nobody could convert the pinball follow-up.

McGinn dragged Gomes back and was booked, Kewane heading the free-kick back but not close to anyone. Then a scrappy attack and Calvert-Lewin could not do enough to direct his header goalwards.

Anoother Everton attack, Richarlison did very well to chase back and cross for Calvert-Lewin but Mings had anticipated it and got in front of the Everton striker, denying an easy tap-in, but then cleaning out Martinez and injuring himself, but allowed to stay on after getting a lot of treatment.

When things eventually resumed, more minutes were added on. Allan tracked and then fouled Davis for a critical final free-kick wide right before the stalemate was terminated and more massive points for Europe were squandered yet again.

Kick-off: 6pm, Thursday 13 May 2021 on Sky Sports

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash (45+2' Elmohamady), Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn [Y:90'], Douglas Luiz, Traore [Y:43'] (72' Grealish), Barkley (65' Ramsey), El Ghazi, Davis.
Subs not Used: Wesley, Steer, Nakamba, Hause, Philogene-Bidace, Chukwuemeka.

Everton: Pickford, Coleman (73' Iwobi), Holgate, Keane, Godfrey, Digne, Allan, Doucouré, Sigurdsson [Y:55'] (66' Gomes), Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
Subs: Virginia, Olsen, Delph, King, Nkounkou, Bernard, Davies.

Referee: Martin Atkinson
VAR: Graham Scott

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

With their European hopes very much alive following their narrow victory at West Ham on Sunday, Everton are on the road again as they travel to Aston Villa looking for what would be a club record-equalling 12th away win of the season.

The Toffees go into the game sitting three points behind the Hammers and with the knowledge that a victory would leapfrog them into joint-fifth place, at least until Liverpool, currently occupying fifth, play Manchester United in the 8pm kick-off.

While lamenting his team's home form, Carlo Ancelotti has rightly lauded his player's performances away from Goodison Park and as the chase for Europe heats up with just a few games to go he will be geeing his men up for a final push.

He will be without James Rodriguez again, however, for the trip to Villa Park and Yerry Mina will also be sidelined for the game. James was set to face the Midlanders in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park a couple of weeks ago but was forced to withdraw during the warm-up when he felt tightness in his troublesome calf.

He missed the win at West Ham on Sunday but is expected to return to full training on Friday with a view to playing a part against Sheffield United in the Toffees' penultimate home match of the season.

Mina was forced off at Upton Park on his latest return from a thigh injury, with the complaint flaring up again during the second half of the 1-0 win.

Carlo Ancelotti is hopeful that he, too, will be available for the game against the relegated Blades this coming weekend.

Villa's dream start to the season is a distant memory at this stage and according to SportsBettingDime.com, oddsmakers are split on which team should be favored this weekend when Everton visits Villa Park. One sportsbook has the draw-no-bet odds at -112/-107 in favour of Villa, another has it at -104/-111 in favour of Everton, while a third has it even. Basically the odds are as close as you will ever see.

Villa will be without the suspended Ollie Watkins who was sent off for two bookable offences during his side's 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United but manager Dean Smith has indicated that Jack Grealish is expected to return following a long injury lay-off, although he is unlikely to start.

The absences of Watkins and Grealish from the starting XI works in Everton's favour, of course, but regardless Ancelotti has promised that the Blues will play “very differently” to the way they did in the reverse fixture at the start of the month.

That evening, the Italian fielded something akin to a 4-3-3 formation whereas Sunday's win in London was based on a three-man back line with Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne as wingbacks. That is likely to be the approach again against Villa, with Mason Holgate likely to come in for Mina.

In midfield, Abdoulaye Doucouré could start for the first time in weeks after being given an additional few days' rest by not being used at West Ham and that will probably mean Tom Davies dropping back to the bench. That is unless Ancelotti opts for four at the back, keeps Davies as the holding man in front of defence and affords Allan and Doucouré license to press forward, with Gylfi Sigurdsson also asked to participate more in attack.

Win and Everton will have propelled themselves right into the mix for the Europa League and despite Anclelotti dismissing the notion out of hand, depending on how Chelsea and Leicester fare in their final two games, the top four is still a mathematical possibility.

Put simply, the recipe for Everton is to keep winning.

Kick-off: 6pm, Thursday 13 May 2021 Sky Sports
Referee: Martin Atkinson
VAR: Graham Scott
Last Time: Aston Villa 2 - 0 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Godfrey, Keane, Holgate, Digne, Allan, Doucouré, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin

Lyndon Lloyd

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