Aston Villa weather early storm, drop Everton back into relegation zone
For nearly an hour, Everton were head-and-shoulders the better side, but Aston Villa hit the Toffees twice to snatch a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park on Saturday.
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The defeat sees Everton (21 points) slide from 16th down to 18th, back in the relegation zone, due to results elsewhere in the Premier League this weekend. Leeds (22 points) and West Ham United (23), who occupied 19th and 18th, respectively, heading into matchweek 25, both won on Saturday.
Aston Villa (31 points), meanwhile, remain 11th as they move level on points with Chelsea in their chase for a top-half finish.
Ollie Watkins scored the winning goal from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute, extending his run to five straight games with a goal, leading the way with eight PL goals for Villa this season. Emiliano Buendia, who came off the bench just after the hour mark, helped Unai Emery’s side seize control of the game before adding goal no. 2 in the 81st.
In a relegation battle, small margins make huge differences
The game sprang to life not long after the restart when Everton were denied and opening goal in truly spectacular fashion on 55 minutes. Alex Iwobi’s initial shot was headed well wide of goal but it came back into play after hitting Ezri Konsa, who was laid flat on the ground on the end line. The ball found its way to Neal Maupay, who headed it goalward, only for Tyrone Mings to sprint across goal and boot it clear.
Five minutes later, roles were reversed as Jordan Pickford went full-stretch (and then some) to get a fingernail on Watkins’ header, pushing it onto the inside of the post but by no means clear. As it bounced back across the face of goal, James Tarkowski rushed onto the scene and hoofed it away.
Three minutes after that exchange of goal-line clearances, Idrissa Gueye needlessly slid in and cut down John McGinn to give Aston Villa a penalty, and that was that.
Stars of the show
Up next for Everton is a trip to north London, where they’ll make up their game in hand and face Premier League leaders Arsenal on Wednesday. Aston Villa get Crystal Palace back at Villa Park next Saturday.
How to watch Everton vs Aston Villa live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10 am ET, SaturdayOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & star players
In 20 games prior to Dyche’s appointment, Everton conceded 28 goals, kept just three clean sheets and won just three times in the PL; since his debut earlier this month, two goals conceded (both to Liverpool), two clean sheets and a pair of victories. Of course, the Toffees are yet to become a goal-scoring juggernaut (to no one’s surprise), with Dominic Calvert-Lewin returning from his latest injury in last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Leeds.
Emery’s first seven games in charge saw Aston Villa conceded just seven times, including three in a single game against Liverpool, before giving up four to Leicester, three to Manchester City and four to Arsenal in successive fixtures. It goes without saying that Saturday’s trip to Goodison couldn’t come at a better time for the Villa defense.
Everton team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (thigh), Andros Townsend (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Amadou Onana (knee), James Garner (fitness), Nathan Patterson (fitness)
Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Jed Steer (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Diego Carlos (achilles), Robin Olsen (undisclosed)