There is something about Aston Villa playing at the cathedral that is Villa Park playing under the lights. I also love our games against Everton because for the majority their fans are good football fans. I spoke with a few Evertonians before the game on Saturday and it was quite refreshing how complimentary there were of what is going on at Villa Park.
Onto the game, Dean Smith opted to give Emi Martinez his spot back following his international fiasco as Jed Steer dropped back to the bench. Otherwise, he stuck with the same side that lost 3-0 to Chelsea last week.
The first half was like a game of chess, two sides trying to figure each other out without any real end product.
The game sprung into life following the introduction of Leon Bailey around the hour mark.
Matt Cash picked up the ball, running past several Everton defenders in a Hutton vs Birmingham style before cutting inside and firing past goalkeeper Asmir Begovic with a fit left-footed finish.
Just minutes later Villa doubled their lead. Villa were awarded a corner kick which Bailey swung towards the near post. A Luca Digne header knocked the ball over Begovic and into his own net.
It was all Villa at this point and moments later it should have been three. Jacob Ramsey broke through the middle and had the option to lay off Danny Ings but rather selfishly took a shot that just went wide of the Everton goal.
Fifteen minutes from time and Villa did get their third when Ings played a beautiful switch down the field for Bailey who headed the ball forward as he drove towards the goal before a thunder strike to seal all three points for Aston Villa.
- Aston Villa look solid in this new 3-5-2 formation but in the first half, there was a real lack of attacking threat. The Villa back three were quick to play the ball to the two wing-backs who then had very few options ahead of them. On the few occasions, Cash or Matt Targett did get close to the Everton goal, their crossing was poor.
- I am unsure if you would regard this as bad or not but Smith will have a selection headache with this formation also. Bailey and Emi Buendia had to settle for places on the bench and how does he fit them in this formula?
- Not football related but more supporter related. On Saturday both the Holte Pub and the Witton Arms were closed. On top of that, in recent years we have seen pubs like the Adventurers and the Aston Hotel close their doors. It is becoming more and more difficult for fans to find a pre-match beverage.
- Tyrone Mings. I am a massive fan of our captain and believe he gets a lot of unfair criticism. We all know what happened at Chelsea but he bounced back, as he always does and was colossal on Saturday. A leader of the highest regard.
- The introduction of Leon Bailey was a fantastic decision by Smith. The Jamaican only played 21 minutes but he caused Everton so many problems, leaving them shellshocked by the time he left the pitch due to picking up a knock.
- Douglas Luiz was flawless. He looks back to his very best following his return from the Olympics. I am so glad we managed to keep hold of the Brazillian this summer.
- All the good seem to be aimed at the players this week but I couldn’t help but give a special mention to Jacob Ramsey. The youngster looks fitter, stronger and more confident than he did last season. He also finished the game with just one misplaced pass throughout the game.
Wednesday, 22nd September. Kick-off: 7.45pm.
Aston Villa will head back down to London to take on Champions of Europe Chelsea for the second time in three games. I expect a much-changed side from both managers which could make it a very interesting affair.