After a humbling defeat at Wolves, Everton take on another midlands club tomorrow night as they host Aston Villa in one of English football’s oldest and most played fixtures.
Everton v Aston Villa is a historic game which has been played on and off ever since the Football League was founded in 1888 by the original twelve clubs who formed it.
Both teams enjoyed plenty of success in the early years of the league wining league titles and FA Cups as well.
Although going into the eighties, Villa hadn’t win the league title since 1910, and while Everton had last been champions much more recently in the 1969-70 season, their fans had been forced to endure watching Liverpool begin to dominate English football.
Each club had some memorable achievements during that decade. Villa won the league title in 1981 and then the European Cup even more improbably 12 months later.
Although they fell hard and quickly from those great heights, being relegated in 1987, just as Everton claimed what proved to be their last ever league title.
The Blues of course had their most successful decade ever, claiming 4 major trophies and reaching six cup finals. They could and should have won more too.
Coming back to now, the Toffees have little to play for this season except pride, what little there seems to be in this bunch of players. For the Villains however, there’s plenty at stake as they need all the points they can get to avoid relegation.
If the Blues repeat last Sunday’s performance I would fully expect Villa to win. Indeed I think any club in the Premier League would do.
The midlands outfit have had a struggle this season, they started well and beat the Toffees comfortably back in September.
Since then though they have found it tough and despite the odd decent result, have slipped into the bottom three where they have been rooted for much of the past few weeks.
Several of their players have caught the eye with Jack Grealish garnering most of the headlines, for good and bad reasons. although Tyrone Mings has perhaps been their best performer and was rewarded with an England call-up.
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Given the unpredictable teams and formations that Carlo Ancelotti has deployed recently, I have very little idea exactly who will start tomorrow night or how they will line up.
There is some limited good news in that Mason Holgate and Andre Gomes are both fit and available for selection. I would presume both will start.
I say limited good news because Gomes has hardly been setting the league alight in recent matches. But Holgate is essential to give some pace, defensive strength and passion to the side, all of which is much needed. He’s also becoming a leader something this Toffees side are also badly short of.
Although he’s Everton’s best defender, I think there is some worth in perhaps playing him in midfield, the Blues biggest area of weakness and where he has been deployed with considerable success. However as Yerry Mina is unfit he will most likely play at centre-back.
Well I don’t know to be honest what’s the best lineup, I’m not sure at the moment it would make a whole lot of difference who plays and where.
Ancelotti has again spoken of the need for determination and commitment from his players. I really do hope that this lesson has been sinking in, but I’m not optimistic.