Everton and Aston Villa will aim to continue the upturn in fortunes under their new managers at Goodison Park on Saturday.
The 2022/23 Premier League season resumes this week with Gameweek 25, with Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers kicking things off at Craven Cottage on Friday. The action on Saturday will begin at Goodison Park, where Everton and Aston Villa will face off in a pivotal figure in the table’s bottom half.
Everton came into the 2022/23 season after narrowly staving off relegation last term. But they did not learn their lessons in the 2021/22 campaign, and the team remained in and around the drop zone under Frank Lampard. A horrendous run after the World Cup invited protests from the fans, who called for the board to resign.
Push came to shove eventually, and Everton sacked Lampard, with Sean Dyche replacing him. And the Toffees have made solid progress under Dyche, winning two of the three games thus far. That run of results has lifted Everton out of the relegation zone. But the experienced manager still has an uphill task ahead of him, with 14 games remaining in the season.
Like Everton, Aston Villa saw another legendary Premier League midfielder leave this season. Steven Gerrard, like compatriot Lampard, failed to galvanise the Midlands outfit, who eventually parted ways with him. In came Unai Emery, who has improved the Villans’ fortunes considerably in the last few months. And they are now up to 11th on the Premier League table, three points out of the top half.
The reverse fixture saw Aston Villa beat Everton 2-1 at Villa Park, with Lucas Digne’s late own goal not enough to bring the Toffees back into the game. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Fitness updates on Calvert-Lewin, Patterson, Garner and Onana ahead of #EVEAVL.
— Everton (@Everton) February 23, 2023
Sean Dyche has greeted a positive update on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Aston Villa on Saturday, the Everton manager will be bereft of the services of four first-team players.
Dyche had been sweating over the fitness of Amadou Onana, who picked up a knee injury against Leeds United last weekend. But the Everton manager confirmed in his pre-match press conference that the Belgian midfielder was fit. But Nathan Patterson (knee), James Garner (match fitness), Andros Townsend (knee), and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (hamstring) remain unavailable.
Jordan Pickford has signed a new long-term contract with Everton this week and will take his usual spot between the sticks on Saturday. And Everton will line up in Dyche’s preferred 4-5-1 formation in front of the English international against Aston Villa.
James Tarkowski and Conor Coady have struck a solid central defensive partnership and will retain their spots. Meanwhile, there is no looking past Seamus Coleman and Vitaliy Mykolenko in the full-back berths.
Dwight McNeil has been the trusted lieutenant for Dyche since their days together at Burnley. And the 23-year-old will start on the right flank, where he will look to be direct and take on the Aston Villa defenders. Alex Iwobi picks himself on the opposite wing, with the in-form Nigerian international being a game-changer for the hosts.
Amadou Onana’s return to fitness is a hugely positive update for Dyche. And the Belgian midfielder will be the workhorse in the middle of the park for Everton. He will share defensive duties with Idrissa Gueye and Abdoulaye Doucoure while looking to push his team forward. Finally, Neal Maupay should spearhead the attack in Calvert-Lewin’s absence.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Pickford; Coleman, Tarkowski, Coady, Mykolenko; McNeil, Onana, Gueye, Doucoure, Iwobi; Maupay
Unai Emery does not have any pressing injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Goodison Park. Against Everton on Saturday, the Aston Villa manager will be without three first-team players.
Diego Carlos is the only notable absentee, with the Brazilian defender recently resuming training. Goalkeepers Robin Olsen and Jed Steer are the other players on the sidelines. But with Emiliano Martinez going strong, Emery does not have a cause for concern.
The World Cup winner picks himself between the sticks, with Aston Villa lining up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of him. But Martinez will aim to be more alert after conceding a late own goal that helped Arsenal beat the Villans.
Emery: “I want to lead the players and try to help them and support them to get better in their performance.”
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) February 23, 2023
Matty Cash has recently usurped Ashley Young as the right-back and should retain his spot in the starting eleven. Alex Moreno picks himself on the opposite flank, while Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings will form the central defensive partnership.
The midfield trifecta will wear a largely defensive-minded outlook. Boubacar Kamara, Douglas Luiz, and John McGinn are the automatic picks in the middle of the park. And the trio will aim to keep things tight in the centre of the pitch. But McGinn will also look to carry the ball forward when the opportunities present themselves.
Philippe Coutinho scored a brilliant goal last weekend against Arsenal and might have earned another start. The Brazilian international will likely join Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Buendia in the offensive unit. And Leon Bailey will be an option on the bench for Emery.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Moreno; Kamara, Luiz, McGinn; Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho
- Everton lost their last two home league meetings with Aston Villa, as many as in their previous 16 at Goodison Park (W7 D7). They have never faced a defeat three in a row at home against the Villans in their league history. Since returning to the Premier League in 2019, Aston Villa are unbeaten in all seven meetings with Everton (W5 D2), winning the last three in a row. They most recently won four consecutively against the Toffees between September 1996 and March 1998.
- Everton vs Aston Villa is the most played fixture in English Football League history, with this the 210th meeting (78 wins for Villa, 76 for Everton, 55 draws). It is also the English league fixture to see the most goals scored (645 – 324 for Everton, 321 for Villa).
- Everton won their last two Premier League home games (both 1-0), as many as they had in their previous 10 at Goodison Park (D2 L6). They most recently won more consecutively in September 2021 (4), while they last clinched a victory in three matches in a row without conceding in August 2019 (5).
- Aston Villa lost their last three Premier League games, conceding more in these three defeats (11) than they had in their first seven matches under Unai Emery (7). The Villans have not lost four consecutive league outings while shipping 3+ goals each time since September 1958.
- Sean Dyche is looking to become the fifth permanent Everton manager to win his first three home league games in charge of the club, after William Edward Barclay (1888), Dick Molyneux (1889), Harry Catterick (1961) and Rafael Benitez (2021). Dyche could be the first to do so without conceding.
Player to Watch
Onana has been the beating heart of the Everton midfield this season, showing why they broke the bank to sign him last summer. Even when the Toffees were struggling under Frank Lampard, the Belgian midfielder was a rare shining light for his team. And his performances have improved further under Sean Dyche.
The former Burnley manager has brought the best out of the 21-year-old, with the team revolving around him. And continued top-class performances will likely attract big clubs after Arsenal and Chelsea tried signing him in January. For now, Onana will remain focused on the job at hand with Everton.
Everton 1-0 Aston Villa
Aston Villa’s form is on a downward spiral after some brilliant performances under Unai Emery. They nearly took points off Arsenal last weekend before their defensive vulnerability invariably emerged. And Everton might look to take advantage of that with breezy runs in the final third.
In addition, the Toffees look more solid than ever, with Sean Dyche working his magic. So Villa’s frustrating run might continue on Saturday, with the game unlikely to produce many goals. The Hard Tackle predicts Everton to beat Aston Villa 1-0 at Goodison Park this weekend.