Aston Villa v Everton - 26/10/13 Result 0-2

The Dolphin's BrainStarred Page By The Dolphin's Brain, 28th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/b1ypfc00/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Sport

In 1888, the Football League's inaugural season, 12 clubs took to the pitches of the north and the midlands to begin a battle for supremacy that has been maintained to the present, and vastly expanded. Aston Villa v Everton is the most played fixture and last Saturday at Villa Park the two clubs met again.

Setting The Scene

Villa's home form is, to put it mildly, in need of improvement. Given Everton's more than respectable start to the season, however, Saturday was unlikely to bring much joy to the Holte End, despite the encouraging home win against Manchester City a few weeks back.

Having favoured a 4-3-3 formation for much of his time here, Lambert picked a more fluid front six, replacing El Ahmadi with the effervescent Tonev on the right, giving the team more of a 4-4-2 feel with Weimann occupying the left of midfield. Baker kept his place at Centre Back with Clark keeping the bench warm.

Everton put out a full-strength XI with Distin and Jagielka at the heart of the defence, Piennar and Baines down the left, the improving Barkley in midfield and the imposing Lukaku up front. Always tough to beat under Moyes, Martinez has maintained the togetherness in the team's performances and, arguably, improved the quality of the passing game.

Opening Exchanges

With all the above in mind, therefore, the first half was something of a surprise. The first minute of the match was frenzied and end to end and this proved to be the case for much of the half albeit that the Toffees found their attacks stunted whilst Villa looked more creative on home soil than usual.

Everton's normal attacking axis of Baines and Piennar were kept so quiet that Mirallas down their right saw more of the ball than he usually does in a whole game, to little effect, and Lukaku was handled excellently by Vlaar and Baker; his one main effort, a close-range header, was saved superbly by Guzan.

At the other end, Howard saved Benteke's penalty and Villa's sharp play created two golden chances at the end of some fine flowing passing. Benteke and Weimann both found themselves unable to convert when one on one with Howard. a 3-1 scoreline at half-time would not have flattered the home team.

Attacking The Holte End

The second half saw the Villa continue to dominate, winning a succession of corners. Whilst it was clear that Lukaku had the capacity to pose significant problems in attack he was prominent in defence in the opening stages of the second period making several headed clearances from a number of Villa corners in front of the Holte End.

Fewer clear-cut chances arose in front of the faithful, but Agbonlahor squandered possibly the best chance Villa had, striking a tame shot from slightly behind him straight into the arms of Howard.

All That Good Work Leads ........

Football and the reporting of it are full of clichés, but, as the cliché goes, there’s usually a little truth behind the trite words. Certainly, the first half was a classic example of ‘having to take your chances when on top’. ‘Substitutions change games’ was the cliché of choice for the games later stages.

Towards the end of the first half, Villa’s Antonio Luna had to be replaced due to injury; Clark came on and went to centre back and Baker moved out to left back. This change appeared to leave Lukaku slightly less well-policed, particularly as the game progressed towards its closing stages.

The change that had the greatest impact, however, was Leon Osman replacing a largely ineffective Barkley. As soon as he joined the fray Osman’s movement and more penetrative approach posed additional problems and led directly to Everton’s first goal, setting up Lukaku to sweep the ball in. Inevitably, he also scored, having been found by a calm, inch-perfect pass from Barry.

Losing the first goal at home for Villa is always going to lead to a struggle. As with the Tottenham defeat in the Premier League, chasing the game after going behind led to a loosening of Villa’s control over Everton’s front players and, inevitably, the visitors’ second goal.

Of course, it all would have been different had Villa buried their chances. It would have been different if James McCarthy had received a red card for a late, over-the-top, shin-high challenge on Westwood that could easily have snapped a bone. It looked a sending-off from where I was sitting and more so once I had seen the television replay, but a yellow card was the punishment meted out. The score was 0-0 at the time. Such decisions affect outcomes.

Endpaper

As I wrote in my previous match report, the haul of points this season is a vast improvement compared to the equivalent games in 2012/13, ten points as opposed to three. What is more encouraging, despite the constant whining of some of the social media experts, some of whom seem never to be happy, is the gradual improvement of home performances, the overall defensive solidity and the continued evident spirit within the squad. It is essential, however, that those performances produce more points.

The games from now up to and including the Christmas and New Year holiday (West Ham (a), Cardiff (h), West Brom (a), Sunderland (h), Southampton (a), Fulham (a), Man Utd (h), Stoke (a), Palace (h) and Swansea (h)) provide opportunities for a decent points return. We picked up about 15 points from these games last season and we need to target a return of 20 this time around. New Year’s Day brings Sunderland away, another game we need to win.

Come the home game against title-chasing Arsenal on January 11th 2014, followed by the trip to Anfield a week later Villa need to be on 30 points.

All text and images © The Dolphin’s Brain 2013 except where indicated otherwise

Tags

Agbonlahor, Aston Villa, Benteke, Delph, Everton, Lukaku, Match Report, Paul Lambert, Premier League, Weimann, Westwood

Meet the author

author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
I am a mixed bag of lawyer, vegan, environmentalist and sports nut and my writing is likely to be passionate, of-the-moment articles on a wide variety of topics. I also write the occasional poem!

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Comments

author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
29th Oct 2013 (#)

Nice post froma fellow footballer, I'm a Newcastle United and Man U fan at time I write abotPemeiship and MLS. By the way pitty villains lost to the toffess

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