Everton slumped to yet another disappointing defeat at Goodison Park, this time at the hands of Aston Villa.
The visitors dominated much of the opening stages and were rewarded inside thirteen minutes. Ollie Watkins, who was a constant thorn in the side of The Toffees’ defence, pickpocketed Mason Holgate just outside the latter’s penalty box before steering the ball past Jordan Pickford and into the left hand corner.
The hosts, who were dealt a huge blow in the warmup when James Rodríguez suffered a calf injury, responded relatively well and equalised just eight minutes later. After a deep corner from Lucas Digne, Watkins’ England teammate Dominic Calvert-Lewin rose highest and nodded home through the gloves of Emi Martínez and the desperate lunge of Tyrone Mings.
Buoyed by drawing level, The Blues were then to create another excellent chance, with a brave Calvert-Lewin header turned away by Martínez in fabulous fashion. This was to be the closest Everton would come to a second goal and the last time they produced anything meaningful in the match. From that point onwards, Villa took the initiative, with the likes of Watkins, Bertrand Traoré and former Evertonian Ross Barkley all going extremely close to regaining Villa’s lead.
Much improvement was needed in the second half if Everton were going to hold onto a point, let alone grab all three.
Half Time: Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
The second half lacked the zip and flow that had characterised the first. There were little clear cut opportunities, although Villa continued to look the brighter with the ball at their feet.
They clinched a winner ten minutes from time. Breaking impressively, Villa worked the ball into the path of Anwar El-Ghazi, who curled a tremendous strike past Pickford and into the back of The Park End net. It was a glorious goal which epitomised the quality of Villa’s fearlessness and ferocity in attack. They have the makings of a very good team.
Unsurprisingly, Everton did not create anything after that point and reverted to wasteful, aimless punts upfield. Whilst there is a distinct lack of creative players at the club, there has to be a better way of chasing a game than that.
This club continues to find ways to let its supporters down. Whenever any kind of optimism or expectation emerges, it wilts. This squad of players do not have the mentality nor the ability needed to own matches, let alone the direction of their season.
I am very confident that Carlo Ancelotti will take The Toffees back to where they belong but I cannot say that about those he currently has at his disposal.
Full Time: Everton 1-2 Aston Villa
James’ Everton Man of the Match: Jordan Pickford