Everton crash to defeat at Villa

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23: Theo Walcott of Everton reacts after a missed chance during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton FC at Villa Park on August 23, 2019 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23: Theo Walcott of Everton reacts after a missed chance during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton FC at Villa Park on August 23, 2019 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) /

So after perhaps feeling cautious optimism following the start of the season, Blues fans were brought down to earth as Everton crashed to a 2-0 loss at Aston Villa last night.

This was a familiarly depressing defeat away from home that underlined all the flaws in the Everton side, flaws that never seem to be cured.

A pedestrian midfield and a spluttering attack with too many players out of form and several golden chances spurned by forwards who seem completely unable to find the back of the net.

Coming into the game Toffees fans might have felt fairly confident that their team could get a result.

And indeed Everton started brightly enough and made the early running, managing to create a few half-chances in the first 15 minutes or so.

However, the Blues weren’t able to make a breakthrough and almost inevitably in these situations, Villa then caught them on the break.

A quick counter-attack from a set-piece and a simple through ball opened up the Toffees defence far too easily before Villa striker Wesley beat Jordan Pickford at the far post.

Up to this point Villa had not really threatened at all as the Blues dominated, but as soon as they took the lead they grew in confidence and the early structure and purpose to Everton’s game immediately receded.

Now it was Villa largely in control and creating the better chances. The Toffees seemed shaken by the goal coming somewhat against the run of play and unable to respond to this turnaround.

Even so the Blues kept plodding on and eventually did create a chance to equalise. After some decent play down the right, the ball was pulled back across the box and fell at the feet of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

With Villa scrambling to get back organised defensively, the young striker hit it well enough but predictably it was straight at a Villa defender and the chance was gone.

The match became a tight, tense game between two frankly mediocre sides who were cancelling each other out. The match became a bit bad tempered and there was some petty fouling and poor referring, which as usual the Blues got the worst of.

Everton huffed and puffed but weren’t threatening with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison almost anonymous while even Bernard was struggling. And Villa were largely comfortable and happy to defend and counter-attack.

Finally Marco Silva decided to shake things up and introduced Moise Kean, Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott.

This did give the Blues renewed impetus and Kean and Iwobi looked a step up from the players they had replaced.

Iwobi’s lack of time with his team mates though was evident and a little embarrassing as several times he played incisive through balls that no one ran on to! There seems to be a lot of work needed there.

Kean also bustled and threatened and made a good run from the left before cutting the ball back across the box as Walcott arrived.

Now surely Everton would equalise, but as the goal gaped Walcott volleyed and blasted the ball high over the bar.

The Toffees continued to search for that elusive goal and eventually Iwobi created space for himself to shoot from the edge of the box only for the ball to canon back off the base of the post.

Predictably with seconds left and as the Blues pressed, Villa broke again and managed to score another goal to end the contest.

So a really frustrating match was over.

Although Everton did create a few chances, to be honest I don’t think they really deserved anything from the game. Marco Silva seemed to think Everton were unlucky not to get something from this match, begging the question was he watching the same game!?

There was some effort but too little energy, craft and creativity, at least until Iwobi and Kean came on.

These two must get their chance to start as soon as possible, giving Richarlison and Sigurdsson time out to find their game.

The lack of form shown by these two players, who were both pretty decent last season, is particularly worrying.

In addition, the Blues were opened up too easily at the back in this game and the solid defensive effort of the past two games was not replicated. Michael Keane especially had a poor game.

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The absence through injury of Jean-Philipe Gbamin was also a factor here I think. Morgan Schniederlin was not nearly as effective. While Gbamin is still acclimatising to English football, he was already seriously missed.

In my view, going forward when they’re fit, Gbamin and Delph should play in central midfield to give that energy and defensive protection while Andre Gomes, (who was awful yesterday), should play in Sigurdsson’s No 10 role.

There he can hopefully get more involed in attack rather than being required to track back in defence where he makes too many bad tackles and silly fouls.

Anyway on the evidence of this dreadful defeat then, an awful lot of work is still needed if Everton are to harbour any hopes of challenging for the top six this season.