Match Report If there was a gnawing sense throughout much of this game that Frank Lampard had played it more than a little cagily, it was brought home in the final 10 minutes when, with more in the way of a focal point up front in Salomon Rondon and Dele Alli and some badly-needed drive in midfield from Amadou Onana, Everton finally started to create some clear-cut chances. Up until then, the unheeded futility of deploying a front line of wingers, none of whom are renowned for their goalscoring prowess or consistency in end product, had been the order of the day... with predictable results. Everton surpassed 150 minutes of goalless football to start the new season and added another 20 until all three of those more positive introductions off the bench had been made. Not that either Dele, who becomes an ever more perplexing enigma the longer he starts matches on the bench, or Rondon added all that much cutting edge but they at least added some physical presence and height to the side. And it was from the Venezuelan’s headed flick-on that Onana almost plundered a dramatic equaliser in stoppage time. As much it was understandable that Lampard withheld his new signing until the 80th minute — one would assume he would have been fit enough to kick off the Ligue 1 season with Lille but the Blues’ boss clearly didn’t think it was wise to pitch him straight into the heat of the Premier League — you couldn’t help wondering how different things might have been had Onana come on a lot sooner. The Belgian was caught in possession in the centre-circle which led to Aston Villa making it 2-0 with four minutes of the regulation 90 to go (the cooling breaks mandated due to the unusually hot weather added more stoppage time than usual) but within a minute he had atoned by setting up the goal that brought Everton right back into it. Even in such a short span of time, the extra dimension he added to the midfield was clear and it augurs well for Evertonian hopes that in Onana the club have signed a gem. What preceded his introduction was, sadly, deeply concerning. Abdoulaye Doucouré had been forced off after 33 minutes with a tight hamstring and it took his replacement, the less-than-inspiring Tom Davies, less than 10 minutes to pick up a booking after Anthony Gordon had put him in trouble with a poor pass. Like the rest of that ill-suited attacking trio rounded out by Dwight McNeil and Demarai Gray, Gordon had been unable to make anything stick up front for the Toffees while Jordan Pickford’s distribution was just off and in the face of a fast, intense start from Villa, it promised to be a long afternoon. And yet, there was always hope that with James Tarkowski and debutant Conor Coady in the side, Everton might find a profitable route via dead-ball situations. They would have the ball in the net after Gordon had turned a loose ball home from a corner but the goal would be disallowed for offside and, for the most part, the deliveries at set-pieces were pretty poor. They were almost undone by one at other end when Diego Carlos headed narrowly over from a corner but it would only take another half an hour before the home side scored. Ollie Watkins had collected a deep ball near the touchline and when he centred for Danny Ings, the striker took a touch to engineer space from Abdoulaye Doucouré to smash a shot past Jordan Pickford. Having lost two players to injury last week, Lampard was forced to replace another shortly afterwards when Doucouré pulled up and the hosts retained the upper hand for much of the rest of the half. Still, after McNeil and Gray almost combined on a rare foray by the visitors into the home penalty area and the former’s pass ended up being too heavy, it was Everton who almost carved out a chance in stoppage time. However, Gray couldn’t control a cross into the six-yard box and from the subsequent corner, the officials elected not to penalise Carlos when he clattered through Mason Holgate in the box as Villa’s defence finally managed to hack the ball clear. John McGinn blazed a shot over after dispossessing Gray to start to the second period while Nathan Patterson finally got to the opposition byline when he drew a foul from Lucas Digne and McNeil dropped a half-volley wide before the Toffees, playing in their all-yellow third kit for the first time, finally tested Martinez when Gray forced him into parrying a strong shot. Rondon was introduced with 64 minutes on the clock as McNeil made way but Lampard resisted making his final changes until there were just 10 minutes left. In between, Vitalii Mykolenko had had to clear off his own line when Buendia’s deflected shot looked to be looping in but while Onana and Dele were belatedly introduced to try and change the pattern of the match, Villa appeared to put the game to bed just six minutes later. Unfortunately, Onana’s first real involvement was costly, even if it was born of a genuine desire to push the team forward. He was dispossessed near the half-way line and Villa moved it quickly to Buendia who fed Watkins to his right and then raced into the box to collect the return ball and scuff it inside the post to double the score. Onana responded positively and immediately, though, with excellent footwork on the byline at the other end that ended with him squeezing the ball across where former Everton defender Lucas Digne couldn’t help but bundle it into his own net. That sparked a late flurry of action that saw Davies caught stranded as the last man from an Everton corner but Pickford saved to deny Watkins. Gordon then came back to life to surge in on goal and shoot but Martinez pushed it away and Rondon couldn’t get enough on the rebound to stab it home. Then, after Rondon had flicked on a long ball forward, Onana popped up in the box again and stretched out a long leg to divert it goal-wards but a combination of a defender’s leg and Martinez’s glove was enough to deflect it behind. Finally, Gordon had one last chance when he cut back on his right foot and had one shot blocked before he stung Martinez’s palms again with the rebound but Everton would run out of time in their attempts to salvage a point. The club’s need for striking reinforcements was desperate coming into the season; it is not absolutely critical if the team aren’t to start descending into a hole they will find it very difficult to dig themselves out of, particularly if they can’t pick up points away from home. At the moment, precious time — and points — is slipping away. Realistically, Everton need to add two forwards who can both create and contribute goals because with Lampard appearing to have little faith in Rondon — he explained his absence from the starting XI away by alluding to the fact that the Venezuelan was still in pre-season mode in terms of fitness — and the manager unable to count on Calvert-Lewin consistently being fit, just one striker won’t suffice. Beyond that, Lampard himself could do with being a good deal more proactive and adventurous than he was today in a game his side could quite easily have drawn based on the respective performances and those hectic last few minutes. Lyndon Lloyd top Matchday Updates The first away game of the new season at Aston Villa ended in defeat as Everton lacked the confidence and desire to play forward for large periods.Frank Lampard resisted any temptation to play a striker, with Rondon on the bench despite returning from suspension, and Dele not starting for a second match, leaving the serially impotent front three of Gray, McNeil, and Gordon to constitute the attack. New signings Onana and Vinagre are on the bench, where there was only one youngster from the Academy: Stanley Mills. Allan is not included because of a "minor knock". Townsend, Mina, Calvert-Lewin and Gomes were out injured.Everton got things going in the blazing sunshine, wearing their all-yellow away strip, but Villa countered quickly to win an early corner. McGinn's excellent ball in headed over by Carlos a the far post. Villa attacked down the left and Holgate tracked his man before putting in an excellent tackle. Gordon's first contact saw him fouled but no free-kick. Gray was fouled, the free-kick played sideways. Villa then slowed it down in the heat before launching it too far ahead of Digne. Villa wanted a penalty but Tarkowski's little shirt tug was outside the area. Gordon went for a great run down the right wing, Mings pushing him over by the throat... again, no foul! Villa resumed their ponderous attacking but Everton's defence was pretty well disciplined. However, whenever they would win the ball, it was given back to Villa almost as quickly.Everton tried to build an attack but Gray was robbed easily. But a good turnover should have been used better by McNeil and did win Everton a corner that went right through the danger zone. From the next corner, Gordon got the ball in the net but was flagged offside, confirmed by the VAR. Villa won a corner off Mykolenko. Coutinho fouled Patterson as he moved the ball out, drawing the first yellow card. Another Everton attack was easily stalled when McNeil was robbed and Ings was able to beat everyone to score, with the Everton defence torn to shreds. Doucouré pulled up (hamstring?) and had to be replaced by Davies. Everton had some forward possession but it didn't go anywhere, the front three showing absolutely nothing. Everton tried but failed to threaten and then lost the ball, Davies seeing yellow for a wild tackle to stop the Villa attack. Even when the ball dropped to Gray's feet in the 6-yard box, he decided that smacking it into the Villa net was not an option.From the ensuing corner, Davies tried a wayward acrobatic kick and there was a check for a potential handball but nothing given. Villa should have had a second when they sliced through to create a deadly half-chance for Coutinho. A poor half for Everton. Iwobi fouled McGinn straight from the restart, McGinn then firing over the Everton bar. A fantastic ball to Patterson saw some excellent skills from the Scotsman to beat a dogged Digne who then fouled him for a yellow card. Suddenly it was a far far better game from Everton than the entire first half. Davies defended superbly before getting down the other end to win a corner, from which Patterson's shot was blocked by Cash. Gray then did better to create space and unleash a decent shot, straight at Martinez. Coady had to head away a powerful McGinn shot and landed awkwardly, damaging his ankle. Rondon came on for McNeil, who had been largely ineffective again, but Everton's verve since the restart had faded. Ings got through down the channel but the cutback was cleared. A great ball in by Iwobi was a foot or two away from Gray converting. Villa came forward and won a corner from a Holgae clearance, and the fearsome shot from Buendia was blocked by Patterson. Villa got even closer, Mykolenko hooking the ball off the goalline after a good save by Pickford. It had been pretty much one-way traffic for Villa since Rondon came on, a real test for the Everton defence. Holgate had to throw a vital foot in to stop Wakins crossing in. Lampard made a double change with 10 minutes left. A great ball looked to be played by Mykolenko directly for Dele but Mings was across to clear for a corner. Gordon's ball in was gathered well by Marinez.Everton were slowly building through the middle when Onana hopelessly lost the ball and Villa surged forward, Watkins crossing for Buendia to tap in a second for Villa.At the other end, Onana made up for it with a great drive to the byline, and the cross went in at the far post off Digne, with Iwobi in attendance. Watkins got free again at the other end but this time Pickford saved really well.And at the other end, Davies got behind the Villa defence but his shot was poor with Rondon there to his right, and Martinez gathered the ball. Changes and injuries from Villa at the end. When it restarted, Onana almost scored at the far post from Rondon's lay off. Then two more decent shots from Gordon, one blocked, the other saved. Everton showed some signs of life after the changes but could not force another goal. Kick-off: 12:30 pm, Saturday 13 August 2022Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash (90+4' Konsa), Carlos (90+5' Chambers), Minus, McGinn, Ings [Y:75'] (78' Bailey), Watkins, Coutinho [Y:29'] (60' Buendia), Digne [Y49'], Ramsey (90+4' Young [Y:90+8']), Kamara.Subs not Used: Olsen, Luiz, Augustinsson, Archer.Everton: Pickford, Tarkowski, Coady (80' Dele), Holgate, Mykolenko, Patterson, Doucouré (34' Davies [Y:43']), Iwobi, Gray (80' Onana), McNeil (64' Rondon), Gordon.Subs not Used: Begovic, Keane, Coleman, Vinagre, Mills.Referee: Michael OliverVAR: Andy MadleyAttendance: 41,883 Michael Kenrick top Match Preview Everton travel to Birmingham for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off and their first away game of the new season against Aston Villa. Having been beaten on the opening day by Chelsea, Frank Lampard will be keen to start getting points on the board while work continues in the transfer market to further strengthen the side. With no tangible movement on a striker, however, the Toffees will go into this fixture with just Salomon Rondon as a recognised centre-forward but that will be an improvement on last weekend when the Venezuelan was suspended and unable to deputise for the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Everton struggled without a focal point up front for long periods against Chelsea and with this being an away fixture, the importance of having a target man who can hold the ball up could be all the more important. Rondon offers that even if his measly goal return of just three in 23 appearances last season puts question marks over his suitability to lead the line on a long-term basis. He spoke over the summer of wanting to remain an important member of the side and there’ll no better time to make an impact than at Villa Park this weekend. While Rondon could be a voluntary change to the XI that started against Chelsea, Lampard will be forced into at least two changes elsewhere in the line-up after both Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina succumbed to injuries. New signing Conor Coady offers a ready-made replacement for one and Mason Holgate, who replaced Godfrey last Saturday, acquitted himself well once more and will likely get the nod if, as expected, the manager continues with a back three. In midfield, Idrissa Gueye remains frustratingly beyond reach as his wranglings with Paris Saint-Germain over severance pay rumble on but new signing Amadou Onana will be champing at the bit to make his debut. The 20-year-old arrived in a £30m deal from Lille on Tuesday and while the Blues’ deficiencies in defensive midfield are well-documented, it remains to be seen whether he gets pitched straight in for his full debut. His rather clumsy challenge on Raheem Sterling aside, Abdoulaye Doucouré played very well last time out and Alex Iwobi was also impressive but neither is a true holding player or natural screen for the defence. Allan has been used in that capacity more often but he has yet to start either a pre-season or League game since recovering from surgery over the summer. Given his more attacking instincts, Iwobi would be more useful deployed further forward, perhaps at the expense of Dwight McNeil if either Allan or Onana or selected; otherwise, it could just be a case of “as you were”. Like Everton, Villa started 2021-22 in fairly promising fashion under a new(-ish) manager. Steven Gerrard had taken the helm at the Midlands club in November 2021 after Dean Smith had been given his marching orders and, having made some key signings like Emiliano Buendía, Philippe Coutinho and Leon Bailey, much was expected of the former Rangers manager’s team. They comprehensively beat Rafael Benitez’s team in this fixture last term but spent much of the season in mid-table obscurity and finished the season in 14th place, just six points above Everton. A defeat to Bournemouth last weekend hasn’t done much to ease the growing doubts about Gerrard’s ability to take the Villans to the next level and there are rumblings that those concerns extend to some the players, amid rumours of behind-the-scenes strife. If true, it’s the kind of uncertainty that could play into Everton’s hands as they go in search of a win to kickstart their own campaign, even if Gerrard only has a couple of players likely to be missing in the form of Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause. Hopefully, the defensive solidity that largely restricted Chelsea to a barrage of corners and the encouraging signs Everton exhibited with the ball last weekend can provide the platform from which they can cause Villa problems and get them the three points to take back to Merseyside. Kick-off: 12:30 pm, Saturday 13 August 2022Referee: Michael OliverVAR: Andy MadleyLast Time: Aston Villa 3 - 0 Everton Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Holgate, Coady, Tarkowski, Patterson, Mykolenko, Doucouré, Iwobi, Gordon, Gray, Rondon Lyndon Lloyd top * Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.