20/08/2023 0comments  |  Jump to last
Aston Villa 4 - 0 Everton

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's return lasted just 37 minutes before he was belatedly subbed with a facial injury

The alarm bells are ringing early and loudly for Everton after they were hammered 4-0 by Aston Villa on the back of a shambles of a performance where they gifted their hosts two goals from throw-ins.

Sean Dyche’s side were already 2-0 down to John McGinn’s opener and a Douglas Luiz penalty when they went to sleep at the back and Leon Bailey pounced before Ashley Young made a mockery of his vast experience by handing substitute Jhon Duran an easy fourth.

Everton lost Dominic Calvert-Lewin just 37 minutes into his comeback game with a facial injury that left him with blurred vision but his replacement, Arnaut Danjuma, was the bright spot on an otherwise miserable afternoon for the club’s long-suffering travelling fans.

Dyche was able to finally name Calvert-Lewin in the starting XI after his patient summer’s rehabilitation but he kept Danjuma on the bench, preferring James Garner at right midfield and Alex Iwobi on the left.

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At the back, Michael Keane was preferred to Jarrad Branthwaite, although the wisdom of that decision would once again be questioned as the former Burnley centre-half struggled.

Everton started well enough during what was an even first quarter of an hour but after Moussa Diaby had skied an effort at one end, Calvert-Lewin and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez collided heavily at the other as they tried to meet Abdoulaye Doucouré’s cross from the right, with both players staying down in visible pain.

The Blues’ striker was shaken and concerned about his right eye but eventually soldiered on for the next 28 minutes before eventually giving in to the fact that he was unable to continue as the swelling on his face worsened.

In between, Everton fell irretrievably behind, first when Bailey drove to the byline and cut the ball back to McGinn who was left untracked by Garner and he crashed it home from close range to give Villa the lead.

Four minutes later, after a short corner was initially cleared and was played back in by Matty Cash, Jordan Pickford was adjudged to have fouled Olly Watkins as the striker reached for Diaby’s knockdown.

Luiz confidently swept the resulting penalty past the keeper’s dive and put the visitors into a two-goal deficit they never looked likely or able to overturn despite there only being 23 minutes on the clock.

Everton’s midfield was routinely being overrun and after Idrissa Gueye gave up possession in his own half, Luiz played Diaby in but his shot was saved by Pickford.

Then, when Doucouré lost an aerial challenge, Digne, who was given the freedom of the left flank for much of the contest, whipped in a cross that Diaby met but was denied again in brilliant fashion by Pickford who pushed his volley onto the post.

Danjuma would have Everton’s first meaningful effort on target as the first half moved into lengthy stoppage time but was foiled by Martinez at the near post but overall their performance had been poor.

With Gueye having had a generally torrid first period topped off with a booking for scything through McGinn, Dyche hooked him at half-time and introduced Dobbin, with Garner moving inside to his preferred position in central midfield.

But the Toffees’ problems were compounded by yet another injury as Iwobi pulled up with an apparent hamstring tear and was replaced by Neal Maupay, with Danjuma moving out to the left flank where he continued to provide Everton’s greatest threat.

Any small hope they had of getting anything from the game evaporated seven minutes into the second half, though. Digne spotted two runners with a throw-in and caught Keane off guard, the defender only able to get enough on the ball to divert it into the path of Bailey who had time and space to drill it though Pickford’s legs.

Watkins should have made it 4-0 four minutes later when Diaby threaded him in but he dragged his shot across goal and narrowly wide while Martinez did well to parry Maupay’s volley at the other end as Everton briefly threatened to make a game of it.

The rout was completed with a quarter of an hour to go, though, when Young inexplicably tried a long throw back to Keane as the only man back and under-cooked it, which allowed Duran to steal it off the centre-back, advance on the stranded Pickford and slot home Villa’s fourth.

Danjuma was unfortunate not to grab a first goal for the Blues in the 85th minute when his low drive deflected off a defender and just missed the far post but there would be no consolation for Everton on a chastening afternoon that shredded the notion that the team would be harder to beat under Dyche’s pragmatic stewardship.


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