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Aston Villa v Everton:
Prior League Games
 Aston Villa 43
 Everton 24
 Draws 19
 Aston Villa 7
 Everton 0
 Draws 2
 Last Season:
 Aston Villa 2-1 Everton


With David Weir at home with his wife and new-born baby, Everton gave Peter Clarke his full debut and recalled Danny Cadamarteri who, not having found another club, is still available for selection in times of emergency such as these.

Joe-Max Moore also made a rare start as the Blues struggle through their continuing injury nightmare which deepened on 24 minutes at Villa Park when Tony Hibbert had to be withdrawn, Alec Cleland (another little-seen face) replacing him at right back.  Hibbert later left the pitch area on crutches.

With off-the-field matters dominating the news at Aston Villa, the focus of a fairly uneventful first half was the Villa supporters' anti-Board demonstrations from the stands.

On the pitch, Paul Merson quickly emerged as the home side's danger man and it was his corner that gave the Villans their first chance but thankfully Darius Vasell's header was saved by Steve Simonsen.

Everton, with Campbell employed behind the front two, understandably took their time adjusting to their unfamiliar formation and starting XI but grew in confidence as the half went on.  Cadamarteri and Duncan Ferguson were both foiled in the area by unfriendly bounces before the former's excellent cross was met by the latter whose trademark header was well saved by Enckelman on 35 minutes.

Just before half-time, Campbell latched on to a loose ball but sent his snap-shot just over the bar, another signal that he might be better placed in his customary role at centre-forward.

Villa brought Dion Dublin on at half-time but Merson continued to be the main Villa threat and the former Arsenal man cannoned a stunning shot off the face of the crossbar 15 minutes into the second period with Simonsen well beaten.  

However, it was Everton who could have snatched it at the death but Nick Chadwick, who had earlier replaced Cadamarteri, fired over from close range in injury time.

M A T C H    F A C T S
 Sports Match Info  
  FA Premiership 2001-02, Game 24
7:45pm  Wednesday 30 January 2002
Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens)
Att: 32,460
Position: 12th
Line-ups Subs not used
Aston Villa Enckelman; Delaney, Mellberg, Staunton, Boateng; Hadji, Samuel, Hendrie (75' Kachloul), Merson; Angel, Vassell (46' Dublin). Myhill, Barry, Stone. 
Everton: Simonsen; Hibbert (24' Cleland), Clarke, Unsworth, Stubbs, Naysmith; Gemmill, Campbell, Moore; Cadamarteri (70' Chadwick), Ferguson. Gerrard, McLeod, Tal.
Unavailable:  Alexandersson, Blomqvist, Gascoigne, Gravesen, Pembridge, Pistone, Radzinski, Watson (injured); Weir (paternity leave); Xavier (transferred to Liverpool); Nyarko (on loan).  Full Debut: Clarke
Playing Strips Formations
Aston Villa: Claret shirts; white shorts; pale blue socks 4-4-2
Everton: Royal Blue shirts; blue shorts; white socks. 5-3-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Aston Villa: Angel (56')  --
Everton: Clarke (44'), Naysmith (61'), Ferguson (77') --

Premiership Scores
Bolton   0-4 Man Utd
Charlton   1-0 Derby
Sunderland 0-1 Middlesbro
Aston Villa 0-0 Everton
Blackburn   2-3 Arsenal
Chelsea   2-0 Leeds
Ipswich   1-0 Fulham
Liverpool   1-0 Leicester
Sotton 1-0 West Ham
Tottenham   1-3 Newcastle

Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Man Utd 48
2 Arsenal 47
3 Newcastle 46
4 Liverpool 46
5 Leeds 42
6 Chelsea 40
7 Aston Villa 36
8 Tottenham 32
9 Charlton 32
10 Fulham 31
11 Southampton 29
12 Everton 28
13 Sunderland 28
14 West Ham 28
15 Ipswich 27
16 Middlesbrough 26
17 Blackburn 25
18 Bolton 25
19 Derby 19
20 Leicester 17
 After 31 January 2002
M A T C H     R E P O R T S
Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
From The Terrace Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Squire of Beckenham Report Headline
Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
FA Premier Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
The Times Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report

Match Preview

And so an Everton team shorn of the blond bombshell that is Xavier travels down to the Midlands to play a Gregory-less Villa.

I think I was quite clear last week that I wasn't sad to see Xavier go but I must admit to being surprised to see him heading over Stanley Park.  Why on earth is he moving there?  Oh yeah of course they offered him more money and the Champions league (but not the FA Cup this season).

Actually I don't really mind him going there anyway.  Yep, no doubt he'll put a few good performances in and when he does it will hurt but in all honesty can you see him getting into that team very often?  Played anywhere other than centre-back I personally consider him a liability due to his frightening lack of mobility and pace.  

At centre-back he is a decent player, maybe better than decent, but he is not better than Henchoz and Hyppia or even Babbel who will be back at the end of the season. Which means he better get used to warming the bench a lot and if they are happy to give us 800k for a player with 3 months left on his contract to warm their bench (next to Nicky) then thats fine by me.

Villa however will (at least for a short time) miss Gregory.  Most definitely a "character" is our John and whilst he has made quite a few questionable purchases most of them seem to come through eventually - lets wait on the 6M signing of Baloban which does seem an odd one.

Angel started very slowly but is starting to look Premiership class and Boateng is a superb defensive midfielder (81% of tackles won and 83% of passes completed).  At the back they have been unlucky to not be able to play Mellberg and Alpay together for the last 3 months - and fortunately won't be able to do so against us as Alpay still won't be back - and Schmeichel is not as good as he was could still teach most Premiership keepers about positioning.

They are a very strong physical side with their creativity coming through a combination of Hendrie, Hadji and the old man Merson.  Upfront Vassel is destined to play for England and as I have said Angel is starting to score.

That said they do not appear to be the "sum of their parts" at the moment and that perhaps is why the Villa "faithful" (yeah right!) have been deserting Villa Park and aren't too shocked by the loss of Gregory.  On paper they look a comfortable top 6 side to me but too often their performances don't match that.  Let's hope against us they let themselves down again.

What of us?  Well if we can all stop drooling over Gazza's performance against a 3rd division side (well it was good though wasn't it!!) and dreaming of our next cup game at home to the mighty Crewe then we can again get something out of this.

The natives will be very restless at Villa Park.  A protest is being called for by the shareholders and Supporters club before the game.  If that does take place then it will only benefit one team - Everton.

The first 25 minutes will be crucial.  The crowd will be well up for it and we must watch Vassels speed.  Merson and Hendrie will both try and slip him in behind us and Angel at the back post can be deadly.  But our back 4 with Hibbert at right back does look settled and if Gazza and Gemmill can keep working then we should be able to see out those first attacks.

My biggest concern is our lack of width. With Alexandersson out (and lets be frank most of the time even with him) and Blomqvst again likely to be missing our one route will again be right through the middle to Dunc and Campbell.  Villa will love that.  Mellberg is massive and whilst Staunton is a weakness he is shrewd and experienced enough to cope with route one.

A game of attrition is likely to result and two things will swing the match.  How will Villa's supporters react if we can dampen their initial support?  How will Gazza's, Dunc's and Campbell's legs cope with games this close together?  We really are down to the barebones in midfield and Gemmill and Gazza will have to get through the full 90.  Maybe Chadwick will replace one of the front two - probably Dunc.

If we get through the first 25 mins then I can see us sneaking a draw.  Rumours of Walter switching to 5-3-2 and bringing in Peter Clarke for Alexandersson wouldn't surprise me, in fact I might support it as Villa play the same system.  We will need to score but from set pieces we can trouble any team and if Gazza can just give us one more of those runs then Kev will gladly finish it.

1-1 I reckon but when is the dosh coming Bill?  We need cover in midfield!


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