So going into the game at Villa Park the blues were fresh off the back of our first win of the season – a hard fought 1-0 win at Goodison Park vs Watford where Bernard converted an opportunity provided to him by a glorious long pass out of defence from my left back Lucas Digne.
Fresh in the minds of nearly all Evertonians were the following :-
We could go top of the league for a short time
We hadn’t conceded a goal yet
Jack Grealish had played in 20 odd straight Premier League losses.
All of those things had me thinking “Oh for fucks sake I know what happens next here”
Any player needs a goal or team needs a result it always feels like we are more than happy to oblige them – The Peoples club ladies & gents.
Going in to the game my heart said 3-1 win to Everton but my head was thinking 1-1 draw.
I hadn’t been impressed with Aston Villa aside from their first half display against Spurs and I was looking at this game as an opportunity to improve on our first 2 displays and create more chances but more importantly, convert the damn things.
So the first half saw Everton in control of the game against a backdrop of a loud & bouncing Villa Park. We had a lot of possession but were struggling to create any clear cut chances when Coleman played a ball down the right flank that Richarlison layed off to Siggy and he played a good ball back into his path and he broke into the box.
Jack Grealish came running in behind Richarlison and with an arm in his back & Leg into the back of Richys leg knocked him to the ground. Penalty? Should have been for me but it wasn’t given. We all know Richy needs little encouragement to go down at any time in any game but their was contact and Grealish certainly never got any of the ball. No penalty was given and no review from VAR.
The next thing of note led to the first goal of the game.
One of the things that have irked me is the positional play of Richarlison & Bernard who both started the season spending too much time far too near the touchline and too close too Digne & Coleman which has restricted our passing options and a big factor for me in us struggling to create chances – this is supported when analysing Evertons use or lack of, of the half space in the games vs Palace & Watford.
Brazilian Bernard was taking up better positions so far in the game and he came inside off the flank to inexplicably mis control his touch and the ball bounced a good 8 yards away from him to Grealish and now Villa were on the counter.
Andre Gomes completed a tactical foul and brought down Grealish which allowed for Lucas Digne to get back into position.
Sadly nobody else could be arsed moving & switched off.
Villa clearly had a plan to get at us quickly on the turnover of possession and to their credit they took a quick free kick and resumed the counter attack.
They had took Gomes out with the quick free kick and suddenly it was 5 on 5.
The ball was with Jota on the wing and Digne was occupied in moving towards him. Their full back then went on a run in between Mina & Digne which dragged Mina across.
Wesley then ran into the space created by Mina and Michael Keane simply wasn’t alert to the run and didn’t react till it was way too late.
Jota played a lovely pass into the run of Wesley & with Pickford rooted to his line, Wesley slotted into the corner,
Piss poor Everton, piss piss poor.
It was such a poor goal with so many players at fault – Bernards mis control, Sigurdsson & Schneiderlins half arsed efforts at getting back, Michael Keane being asleep, Jordan Pickford being rooted (possibly affected by the smack in the face save from Deeney the previous week in a similar scenario).
Could Everton, historically poor vs a low block and historically poor away from home, come back into the match?
Well we created a brilliant chance to do so prior to the break.
Bernard again come off the flank into the half space and took a pass from Digne and popped it into Schneiderlin who was finally further up the pitch. He played a glorious pass out to Coleman who had made a run in behind the villa defence.
Coleman cut it back to the penalty spot right into the path of DCL who had the entire left half of the goal to slot it in to.
Sadly though DCL spurned the opportunity by just hitting it straight into the middle of the goal and it was blocked a few yards off the line.
Golden chance wasted.
Second half saw more huff and puff from Everton until Siggy & Bernard were withdrawn and replaced by Moise Kean & Alex Iwobi.
Iwobi & Kean immediately made Everton better offensively with the pair showing much more mobility & movement than what had gone on before.
This almost paid off for us when Gomes clipped a ball into the box and Michael Keane nodded it down for Iwobi to strike against the post and fall kindly for Villa to clear.
That move epitomised what Iwobi will bring to Everton. He started with the ball on the left and ran at the left half space and played it to the edge of the box but kept running out to the right to give Gomes an option who now had possession after a couple of passes were exchanged out right. Once Gomes clipped it into the box, Iwobi was on his bike and motoring into the box. That was where Keane headed the ball down into which meant Iwobi could strike at goal.
It was the type of movement we have sorely, sorely lacked and a big part of why us signing Alex Iwobi excites me greatly.
The next big chance came and again Alex Iwobi was at the heart of it. After showing good strength to keep possession he played a ball into the on running Moise Kean who had attacked the left half space brilliantly. Moise Kean showed great composure to turn in the area and put a peach of a ball across and into the path of the on running Theo Walcott.
If you didn’t know how this ended up you could guess.
Theo inexplicably blazed over from 7 yards out after his attempted side foot volley.
These are the type of moments that when you spend big money on big players, they need to deliver. These are match changing opportunities that need to be taken but sadly Theo has a long past now of spurning these type of chances. A clinical finisher he is not and right now we need clinicality because we are not creating a high volume of these type of chances.
Everton then conceded in the dying embers of the game after the poor Andre Gomes made the wrong choice of pass and ignored an easier infield 5 yard ball to Moise Keane that would have gave us a 3 on 3 situation in favour of yet another pass out wide to Coleman who was high up the field running into traffic. Coleman couldn’t take the pass and then Villa countered again similar to their first goal but out on the opposite flank. Wesley held the ball up well and played in McGinn who in turn played in El Ghazzi – Andre Gomes had tracked back well but then turned into a ghost and El Ghazzi was allowed to easily slot past Pickford into the corner.
Villa 2-0 Game Over.
35% Ball possession 65%
7 Total shots 12
3 Shots on target 1
2 Shots off target 7
2 Blocked shots 4
0 Corner kicks 6
8 Offsides 1
10 Fouls 18
2 Yellow cards 3
0 Big chances missed 2
0 Hit woodwork 1
3 Shots inside box 7
4 Shots outside box 5
1 Goalkeeper saves 1
301 Passes 539
219 (73%) Accurate passes 435 (81%)
42/89 (47%) Long balls 28/49 (57%)
1/7 (14%) Crosses 3/24 (13%)
11/17 (65%) Dribbles 13/15 (87%)
10 Dispossessed 10
56 Duels won 66
16 Aerials won 28
6/12 (50%) Tackles 11/16 (69%)
13 Interceptions 5
25 Clearances 7
Our positioning was much improved with Bernard and Richarlison taking up better positions inside the overlapping full backs and therefore closer to DCL & Siggy.
This resulted in much improved numbers for passes in the half space areas left & right plus higher number of passes in Zone 14 (the central area outside the penalty box).
We are still finding ourselves with Gylfi Sigurdsson in a more advanced position than DCL which isn’t helping us create chances in the central area as Gomes & Schneiderlin just want to play short simple passes out wide all too often and we are too easy to defend against and leave ourselves ripe for the counter attack which Villa exploited well with their 2 goals.
That said our defending on those 2 situations was shocking and both goals were very much self inflicted for me and we have missed a massive opportunity for 3 points against a Villa team that had little to offer other than energy & endeavour. Kudos to them though for taking their chances and the cracking atmosphere they generated throughout the match.
I wish them well for the season but I think they will find the majority of teams less obliging than Everton were in this game.