4 Talking points from Aston Villa 2-0 Everton
Aston Villa got their Premier League campaign back on track with a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Everton at home on Friday night, with the much-awaited three points ending Villa’s winless run of 15 games in the top-flight.
On the contrary, the 2-0 result marked Everton’s third defeat in their last 14 Premier League outings, whilst Dean Smith tasted his first-ever victory against top-flight opposition.
Having lost each of their first couple of Premier League fixtures against Spurs and Bournemouth, newcomers Villa were under pressure to overturn a lacklustre start to the season and goals from Wesley Moraes and substitute Anwar El Ghazi ensured that the Lions registered their first victory in the Premier League.
Everton, on the other hand, would have hoped to carry the momentum from their 1-0 victory over Watford into the game against Villa but Marco Silva’s men let themselves down with some pretty ordinary finishing.
While the Toffees will be bitterly disappointed for not coming up with the end product when it mattered the most, the Villa fans have every reason to be happy with a resilient team performance.
The 2-0 victory propelled Aston Villa up to 11th in the Premier League standings, while Everton dropped down to 9th after tasting their first defeat of the ongoing campaign. Here are a few talking points from how things shaped up at Villa Park over the course of the ninety minutes on Friday night.
1. Wesley and Jota could be key to Villa’s success
Wesley, who arrived at Villa Park for a club-record fee earlier in the summer, found himself at the receiving end of some criticism after his failure to make much of an impression in the first two games of the season.
However, the towering Brazilian put up a strong performance in the 2-0 victory on Friday, latching onto a delightful through ball from Jota and calmly gliding the ball past Jordan Pickford to give his team an early lead in the first half.
It wasn’t only about the goal but Wesley was a constant menace to the Everton defenders with his imposing physicality, aerial presence, smart hold-up play and some slick link-up with the likes of Jota and Trezeguet in the final third.
Wesley stole the limelight with his goal in the first-half but, in all honesty, the assist was worthy of a lot more praise than the goal itself.
Jota’s relatively low transfer value made him one of Villa’s most underrated signings of the summer but the Spaniard proved his worth with an incredible through ball from the right-hand side of the pitch to set up Wesley for the opener.
As well as that assist, Jota was a notable threat down the flanks throughout the game before being replaced by El Ghazi late in the second half and according to WhoScored, the Spaniard registered 2 key passes, 2 through balls, 4 successful long balls and 4 dribbles to go with a pass success rate of 82.6.
Just to remind the fans, Smith handed Jota his first start of the Premier League yesterday and that man-of-the-match display would surely have strengthened claims for a series of starts over the coming weeks.
2. John McGinn’s class and depth in Villa’s ranks
John McGinn has arguably been Villa’s most consistent performer over the course of the first three games in the Premier League this term and the Scottish international proved once again as to why Sir Alex Ferguson had recommended him to Man United earlier in the transfer window.
The 24-year-old was lively and energetic as ever in the middle of the park, contributing equally to both defence and attack.
He not only worked well in tandems with Jack Grealish but was also instrumental in nullifying the threat of Andre Gomes in central midfield, with the Scotsman completely outclassing his counterpart on the night.
McGinn capped off another fine all-round display with an assist for El Ghazi’s goal towards the end of the game but the Dutchman deserves a fair share of the credit for his brief yet impactful cameo from the bench.
El Ghazi injected that pace and X-Factor into Villa’s attack and completely humiliated Andre Gomes for the second goal, reminding one and all that Villa have got enough depth in all areas of their squad.
As well as El Ghazi, right-back Frederic Guilbert, who was making his first start of the season in place of Ahmed Elmohamady, also impressed with his clever progressive play and solid defending down the wide areas.
3. Lack of a prolific striker and lax defending might haunt Everton
Scoring goals wasn’t easy for the Toffees last season and it has once again been the same old story for Marco Silva’s men thus far this term.
Everton have scored only once in their first three Premier League games, which is certainly not the kind of scoring record that they need to challenge for a top-six finish this time around.
As it has been the story so often in the recent past, Dominic Calvert-Lewin once again promised a lot with his energy and liveliness in the final third but the youngster failed to capitalise on a clear goal-scoring opportunity in the first half.
His shot on goal was cleared off the line by Bjorn Engels, however, one cannot help but feel that a better striker would have put that one away. In fact, Everton looked a lot more threatening in the final third when new recruit Moise Kean was brought on in place of Bernard.
The former Juventus man set up Theo Walcott brilliantly towards the dying stages of the game but he, too, squandered a rather straightforward chance to equalise, capping off a night of some horrendous finishing by the Toffees.
Alex Iwobi, who also came on as a substitute, came close to scoring with a powerful left-footed effort, only to see his attempt come back off the post.
Everton do not have the same kind of depth in the defensive options following the departure of Kurt Zouma and Phil Jagielka and the central defensive partnership of Michael Keane and Yerry Mina lacked any kind of communication in the 2-0 defeat.
Mina was horribly out of position and caught in no-man’s-land for Wesley’s opener, although that wasn’t the only time when the Everton backline looked porous and vulnerable. Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne both performed up to the mark but they need to get their centre-back problems sorted out soon enough.
4. Andre Gomes needs to step up his game
The Portuguese star managed to establish himself as a hugely influential presence in Everton’s midfield alongside the tough-tackling Idrissa Gana Gueye last season but things haven’t been the same for him since the start of the ongoing campaign.
Not for the first time in this season, Gomes looked way off the pace and his partner Morgan Schneiderlin was hardly involved in any kind of progressive play.
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The duo failed to complement one another to any degree whatsoever and Silva, clearly, has plenty to think about heading into the next few games. Maybe, Jean-Philippe Gbamin would have done a better job.