ASTON VILLA take on Everton on Saturday. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up.
Aston Villa vs Everton | Saturday 18th September 2021, 17:30 | Sky Sports
Everton make the trip down the M6 to Villa Park for the Saturday evening clash and in my opinion, this has the makings of a real crackerjack of a game.
Dean Smith’s side were added to the list of Thomas Tuchel “win-to-nil” victims last weekend, a lengthy list which has since grown by another member in the last few days and as such it would be easy to dismiss the 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge as not much more than we expected.
However, dig a little deeper and we get a truer reflection of a loss that arguably wasn’t entirely merited.
Incredibly, given the scoreline, the Villains actually won the expected goals (xG) 1.5 – 1.1 after winning the shot count 18-12 with only Liverpool (24) having more attempts in an EPL game against the Blues under Tuchel.
Villa’s six shots on target made Edouard Mendy busier than opposite number Jed Steer, who is expected to make way for the returning Emiliano Martinez for this one, providing the home side with another boost.
Despite the absence of Emi Buendia, like Martinez due to his involvement with Argentina, Villa still poured on plenty of pressure with the winning of 11 corners (to Chelsea’s four) further highlighting that fact and their fans will be encouraged by the first showing as a starting partnership for summer signing Danny Ings with fit again Ollie Watkins in a new 5-3-2 formation.
Everton have made an unbeaten start under Rafa Benitez, as he probably needed to do, and although their summer window underwhelmed many, two of their new additions have really hit the ground running, with both Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray scoring in the Monday night win over Burnley.
For the second home game running the Toffees fell behind only to catch fire in the second half and run out 3-1 winners, this time with an incredible three-goal blitz in seven minutes to completely take the game away from a Burnley side who were arguably, up to that point, on top – endorsed by identical xG of 1.3.
Calling the result is difficult with Dean Smith guiding his team to a mini run of four EPL home games unbeaten while Everton with four points from their opening two league road trips this term had the fourth best away record in England’s top flight last season (W11, D4, L4) with forgivable defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea but disappointing ones to Newcastle and Southampton.
Last week I covered the “Grealish factor” Aston Villa needed to get over and it is worth repeating that last season with the 26-year-old in the side they averaged 1.8 points per game – equating to 68 points over a full season, enough for 4th place in 2020/21.
Without him that average drops to only 0.94 points per game – a season total of 36 and just enough to avoid the drop and a 17th place finish – a reminder they have started this campaign with four points from four games.
With that £100m transfer fee reinvested to bring the likes of Leon Bailey, Buendia and Ings to the club it is hard to argue against that the squad depth is much stronger, providing plenty of options going forward as well as off the bench.
With five of these two sides’ opening combined eight fixtures seeing over 2.5 goals as well as the aforementioned underlying data I very much like the price of 1/1 with Bet 365 that we get to see a minimum of three goals here too.
Everton looked explosive on the break in the second half on Monday night and a front foot approach from their hosts will suit them to replicate those tactics and continue a run which has seen them score at least two goals in each of their opening four fixtures.
Equally, I can’t see the home side boasting the attacking talents of Watkins, Ings, Buendia, Bailey, Bertrand Traoré and Anwar El Ghazi supplemented by the rampaging John McGinn – failing to score for a successive game week.
Added to that bet another goals related play caught my eye too.
Villa have seen 12 goals in their opening four EPL fixtures so far with an even split of six in the first half (F2, A4) and six in the second (F3, A3) however, Everton’s league games to date have seen four goals in the opening period (F2, A2) with 10 coming after the break (F8, A2).
Seeing how they stepped up their performance after the interval against Burnley and how that matched their curtain raiser with Southampton, I’m prepared to take a chance on the second half at Villa Park having more goals than the first at a best priced 11/10 with Betfair, especially as this game, which I feel both managers will target three points, could become very stretched as we approach the full-time whistle.
A player that really caught my eye on Monday night was Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Everton’s 28-year-old Midfielder recorded two assists and created two further chances against the Clarets and is clearly benefitting from the freedom afforded to him by his new manager, as well as the knowledge he has the excellent Allan covering in behind him.
French born Doucoure really impressed me with his work around the box and his ability to break in to the area caused Sean Dyche and his side several headaches, unluckily not adding to his goal against Southampton when having a late strike ruled out for offside.
The former Watford, Rennes and Granada star has already had eight shots with four on target from just four games this season – when you compare that with his output last campaign – 18 shots, five on target from 29 appearances I feel we can catch the bookies a little cold – basing his price on stifled performances of last term – his best season saw him crack in seven goals for the Hornets in 2017.
I was very tempted to play last goalscorer at odds of 18/1 – but there is no need to be greedy with Paddy Power offering 7/1 on Doucoure to find the back of the net at any time.
Aston Villa vs Everton – Over 2.5 Goals (1/1 Bet 365)
Aston Villa vs Everton – Second Half to be the Highest Scoring Half (11/10 Betfair)
Aston Villa vs Everton – Abdoulaye Doucoure to score at anytime (7/1 Paddy Power)