12/01/2024 81comments  |  Jump to last
Match Preview

Abdoulaye Doucouré has trained this week and Sean Dyche is optimistic he will be ready to return after missing five games with a hamstring injury

Everton's first Premier League fixture of 2024 is against Aston Villa in the televised afternoon fixture this Sunday.

The Blues saw out 2023 in dismal fashion with a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Wolves but were in much better form in the goalless FA Cup Third Round encounter against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on 4th January.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was sent off in controversial fashion in the closing stages of that tie but, with common sense prevailing and his red card having been rescinded by the Football Association, he will be available to face the high-flying Villans after all.

The game provides the striker with an opportunity to re-find his scoring boots having scored just once in his last 12 games. He was impressive in Everton's Carabao Cup victory at Villa Park in September, scoring what proved to be the winner on what was terrific evening for Sean Dyche's men but he has only found the net on one occasion since. 

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He was supported in attack that night by Arnaut Danjuma and the Dutchman could feature heavily again given that Dwight McNeil is highly doubtful for this one, despite his manager describing his availability as "touch-and-go" in his press conference at Finch Farm today.

McNeil was taken away from the pitch on a stretcher at Palace with what looked to be a serious ankle injury but Dyche explained that the swelling has settled down quickly and there is a possibility the winger could be ready for the midweek replay at Goodison.

The manager also dismissed the current speculation regarding Danjuma's future, insisting that he remains in the club's plans for the remainder of the season.

The former Tottenham loanee is the subject of an approach from Lyon who want to take him on loan until the summer, interest that has been confirmed by his agent. and have reportedly been in talks with Danjuma's parent club, Sevilla this month.

“The situation is very simple, he is an Everton player. That’s it,” Dyche said. “He played the last game and has a fair chance of playing the next one. He has certainly never been out of our plans. 

“He remains an Everton player and there isn’t really a story. I keep hearing quotes about him not being in our plans, I don’t know where they have come from. Nobody has asked me, but as I have been asked now, he is an Everton player and is part of what we do."

Dyche is also hopeful that Abdoulaye Doucouré will be fully fit to face Villa after missing the last five matches with a hamstring problem. The Frenchman has trained this week and looks set to make his much-anticipated return to a side that will be without Idrissa Gueye who has joined up with Senegal for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Côte d'Ivoire.

Doucouré is likely to take up his customary role behind Calvert-Lewin but the rest of the formation will depend on whether Dyche replicates the 3-5-2 formation he used in the cup tie at Villa Park.

It would mean deploying Michael Keane in the central-defensive three despite him struggling in that system against Wolves whereas a more conventional back four would allow the Toffees to play their own game on their own turf.

At the back, Seamus Coleman is likely to make his first Premier League start in over a month, getting the nod over fit-again Ashley Young, and Jordan Pickford will return between the posts after sitting out the FA Cup game against Palace.

Villa, who come into the weekend sitting in second place as the surprise package of the season, will give fitness tests to Pau Torres and Youri Tielemans after both resumed full training this week but former Everton fill-back, Lucas Digne, is ruled out with a hamstring injury.

That's in addition to longer-term absentees Emiliano Buendia and Tyone Mings while Betrand Traoré is away at AfCon.

Unai Emery has plenty of quality in his ranks even with those injury concerns, with the likes of Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey providing goal threat and a history of finding the net against Everton. Both scored in the reverse fixture in August when the Villans ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.

Villa's form in recent weeks has been excellent but they were beaten away at Machester United having led that game, were held 2-2 at Bournemouth and lost at Nottingham Forest in early November.

Prior to Christmas, Everton were one of the form teams in the Premier League, up there with Emery's men, so if they can recapture some of the swagger and intensity now that Doucouré is back, the hope is they can put a dent in Villa's title charge and push themselves away from the bottom three following today's 1-1 draw between Burnley and Luton.

Kick-off: 2:00 pm, Sunday 14 January 2024
Referee: David Coote
VAR: Paul Tierney
Last Time: Everton 0 - 2 Aston Villa 

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Tarkowski, Branthwaite., Mykolenko, Onana, Garner, Harrison, Danjuma, Doucouré, Calvert-Lewin

 

Reader Comments (81)

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Lee Courtliff
1 Posted 12/01/2024 at 17:16:47
Good news on McNeil considering how bad the injury first appeared, and excellent stuff to have Doucouré back too.

Hopefully Dyche gives Danjuma a chance and Dominic scores in a game where we didn't think he'd even be playing!

Staying in the Titanic Hotel tomorrow night so I'll have a short journey to Goodison on Sunday. For once!

Really looking forward to this weekend so I've no doubt whatsoever that Everton will ruin it for me on Sunday but I'm still going nevertheless!

Ajay Gopal
2 Posted 12/01/2024 at 17:34:35
Dyche made a cheeky remark when asked about Danjuma being seen at Manchester Airport:

“I prefer to use the car myself to come to the training ground!” 😀

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 12/01/2024 at 17:43:53
Yay and WooHoo!

Delighted about Doucouré, and totally (joyously) shocked about Dwight, because when I saw them strapping up his leg, I assumed he was gone for the season.

Great, great news.

Christy Ring
4 Posted 12/01/2024 at 18:45:00
Delighted to have Doucouré back, and hopefully we will get Calvert-Lewin scoring again.

And like Mike said, it's great that McNeil is miraculously okay.

Tony Everan
5 Posted 12/01/2024 at 18:50:06
Excellent news, we've missed Doucoure. Equally good news about Dwight McNeil, must be recovering well.

Also a bit of news is the call up of Isaac Heath who has been training with the first team this week. A few of us have watched him for the U21s and to me he has looked a player who may progress. Be interesting to see if he makes the bench.

Paul Birmingham
6 Posted 12/01/2024 at 19:18:09
Great news regardsing Doucouré and McNeil being available. Like many have said, I feared Dwight was done for the rest of this season.

The stars are lining up for Everton!

I've a good feeling that Everton will beat Villa on Sunday.

UTFTs!

Phil Friedman
7 Posted 12/01/2024 at 19:29:15
I watched the presser, he didn't seem to me so optimistic about Doucouré. Didn't give a straight answer on why he wasn't training with the rest of the squad.

I wouldn't get our hopes up for Villa. Maybe the Palace replay?

Brian Williams
8 Posted 12/01/2024 at 19:36:38
He didn't say McNeil was available at all!
Stephen Davies
9 Posted 12/01/2024 at 20:02:20
McNeil certainly ISNT available and won't be until at least 2 weeks.

Doucoure may be available (he's been training this week) and will probably be a last minute decision 50/50.

Terry Farrell
10 Posted 12/01/2024 at 20:13:38
Lee have a fabulous weekend in the shadow of our beautiful new stadium. What will be will be but enjoy it anyway and we just might make it extra special.
Rob Jones
11 Posted 12/01/2024 at 20:21:52
Excellent. He's our most important player, with only Pickford and Branthwaite/Tarkowski coming close.

DCL's lacked support, which Doucs will provide.

Villa have been shaky of late, there's no reason we can't get a result.

Stuart Graham
12 Posted 12/01/2024 at 23:13:32
After the best part of 40 years supporting, Sunday will be my first trip to Goodison. Staying in a Premier Inn near Lime Street Saturday night, so any drinking establishment recommendations gratefully received – I was aiming to head to the Spellow pregame?
Dale Self
13 Posted 13/01/2024 at 00:20:32
Get in there, Stuart! Have the time of your life and bring us a victory. No pressure, by the way.
Paul Kossoff
14 Posted 13/01/2024 at 00:21:29
Luton's draw at Burnley with a controversial late equaliser puts the pressure on us for a win against Villa: win and we're 3 points clear; draw or lose and, with Luton's game in hand we are in trouble.

I think we have Luton away 11 May; let's hope by then we are well clear of the bottom three.

Mike Gaynes
15 Posted 13/01/2024 at 05:11:59
Stephen and Brian, I pretty much figured that Dwight's next game would be September, maybe. I am ecstatic to be wrong. This is great news.

Stuart #12, mazel tov, congratulations and gong xi. Enjoy your special day at Goodison. I stayed in that same Premier Inn. It's lucky.

Danny O’Neill
16 Posted 13/01/2024 at 06:23:00
Stuart,

Have a great experience. Although she's ageing, she's special and I'm glad you'll get to see her before we move to the Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

Close to Lime Street is the Crown where some congregate after the match. The Northwestern linked to the station is good. A posh Wetherspoons as I like to call it.

Near the ground, a few wise men meet at the Saddle Inn, just offset from County Road. And for your first visit, you have to experience the Brick and/or the Winslow. Even if you can't get near the bar!!!

Then there is the Harlech Castle on County Road.

Enjoy and bring your lucky charm.

Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 13/01/2024 at 06:27:23
I don't like predicting line-ups, but I wouldn't risk McNeil so soon after what initially looked a serious injury at Palace.

If Doucouré is fit and ready, then he's straight in. We've missed him.

Maybe a chance for young Dobbin? Although I suspect Dyche will be cautious and maybe bring him on for 20 minutes?

I like Dyche's straight talking even though we are all experienced enough to know that managers' words can be overpassed by those upstairs.

Derek Knox
18 Posted 13/01/2024 at 07:31:36
They say "you never miss the water till the well run's dry". That old saying is very pertinent in the case of Doucouré who, as Danny said, has been missed.

A look at the table as it stands does not make good reading, although if that is how it finishes, I think we would all accept with points, goals, games etc adjustment as long as we stay clear of the Bottom 3.

We may, and I say that more hopefully than anything else, get some points back, but still need a run of a few games with 3 points from each. Villa will not be an easy game, but I think if we play to our strengths with what we have (personnel), a result is a possibility.

I still have a gripe with Dyche over his timing of substitutions, and quite often the ones off the bench used, but apart from that I think he is doing a decent job. Mind you refereeing decisions (?) and the VARs (bent bastards) have cost us seemingly more than any other team in the Premier League!

COYB 💙💙👍

Phillip Warrington
19 Posted 13/01/2024 at 08:03:21
We have to step up a gear and go back to basics. When we were playing less in our half, we were winning games. We don't want to rely on getting points back to save us, trouble is as usual our new players haven't set the world on fire.

Branthwaite has become a good player to watch; he seems a very calm player who doesn't waste possession when he's got it, I love to see him link up with Onana – both are good passers of the ball.

Villa are no mugs; it's going to be another tight season… This year will be Everton's.

Paul Birmingham
20 Posted 13/01/2024 at 08:06:59
Good feeling for the Villa game, and hopefully Everton can get 3 points and a good performance.

More VAR aggro, so Doucouré's goal v Fulham was cancelled, at Goodison, while at Turf Moor last night, the Luton player barges the Burnley goalie and the goal stood.

Small margins… which are adding up as the season rolls on.

The game is now a lottery in terms of the VAR and match officials.

UTFTs!

Sam Hoare
21 Posted 13/01/2024 at 08:42:35
Tough game but we really need to start picking up points again. At least one at the minimum.

Luton have caught us up and Burnley are looking a bit better now. We really need to try and close the gap to Brentford, Forest and Palace ideally in order to bring others into the relegation battle.

We can't rely on getting points back at appeal and need to keep ourselves safe by scrapping for points whenever we set foot on the grass.

Lee Courtliff
23 Posted 13/01/2024 at 08:51:35
Thanks, Terry Farrell. We'll certainly enjoy ourselves today, its just tomorrow I'm worried about but at least Luton salvaged a draw yesterday. That was a very good result for us.
Kim Vivian
24 Posted 13/01/2024 at 09:12:42
If we fail to pick up at least a point or at worst, lose, and Brentford get something at Spurs (hopefully not) then we will find ourselves firmly entrenched in the Bottom 4 (pending any of the penalty points redeemed, which seems somewhat over-optimistic to me), at least for a few weeks.

Every game seems to be a 'must win' and no games seem to be bankers for points. Our predicament is starting to wear me down.

Today is going to be a tough test. Of course I'm praying for a win and looking to the runes for inspiration but a draw seems the best we can realistically expect. To make matters worse, I have Ollie Watkins retained as captain of my FFL team having missed the cut of time to change the team!

Pffft...!

Dave Cashen
25 Posted 13/01/2024 at 09:25:54
And breathe, Kim.

You're coming to the boil too soon mate. We're not playing until tomorrow. I understand the desperation to get the points on the board, I feel it too, but there are plenty of games left. We don't need to make the game against a very good Villa side "must win".

Doucouré's return is a timely one. I think having two physically strong men up against the Villa defence will prove a deciding factor.

Stuart. Enjoy your day, mate

Dale, your turn will come.

Stuart Graham
26 Posted 13/01/2024 at 09:28:42
Cheers Danny!
Kim Vivian
27 Posted 13/01/2024 at 09:36:18
Haha yes, Dave. I know perfectly well it's tomorrow. I've got a nice lunch meeting to look forward to today, rearranged from Sunday for that very reason!

Too late to edit to 'tomorrow'...

Shows the state of my mind!

Bob Parrington
28 Posted 13/01/2024 at 09:59:21
Okay - so bets on - we win 2 - 0
Brian Harrison
29 Posted 13/01/2024 at 10:28:45
I think the Everton v Villa is the most played fixture in the top flight, and it's always a tough game against them. They seem strong at the back with one of the Premier League's best goalkeepers, and have plenty of pace and attacking options.

I hope Doucoure is fit enough to start as he has been sadly missed, I don't think the system we play is half as effective when Doucoure isn't playing.

While McNeil will be a big miss, I hope Dyche starts Danjuma, he is happy taking on defenders and was unlucky not to score in his last game and is a goal threat.

John Keating
30 Posted 13/01/2024 at 10:45:59
Massive game for us and 3 points a must. We have to keep clear of Luton and try and bring the clubs above us into the mix.

There can be no excuses about tiredness catching up with our small squad, they've had more than enough rest.

Threats from everywhere with Villa. But my usual mantra: “Watch out for my mate McGinn!”

Derek Knox
31 Posted 13/01/2024 at 10:49:17
Stuart @12,

As Danny says, the Crown is okay, but more of a handy one for the station (waiting for a train, or Godot). If you go a little further down from the Crown, you will see Charlotte Street and a big Wetherspoon's on the corner, used to be Blackler's department store back in the day.

All along Charlotte Street there are some good bars, usually with music on. Tess Riley's, The Blob Shop et al. Enjoy mate and bring us a much needed home win!

There are soccer buses to the ground just along from the Empire Theatre – free if you have a bus pass or £2.00 I think if not!

Les Callan
32 Posted 13/01/2024 at 10:58:17
Anyone else out there go to the Empire last night. Great listening all about our glory years.
Chris Leyland
33 Posted 13/01/2024 at 11:22:06
Les, yes I went. Great night reminiscing about the '80s. Only thing that surprised me was their comments on Pickford which I thought were harsh.
Dave Williams
34 Posted 13/01/2024 at 11:48:57
Is anyone going to the Harlech pre game? I need some company!!
Kunal Desai
35 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:06:25
Other than the cup game earlier this season, our recent league form against Aston Villa is pretty grim since they got promoted and we haven't beaten them in seven.

Let's hope Doucoure is fit to start. We need to stop the recent blip of three consecutive league defeats.

Jim Bennings
36 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:25:30
In league terms, we are certainly due a victory against Aston Villa, as long as I can remember over the last 30 years though, Villa seem to be a bogey side to us.

I've got a strange feeling we could actually be suited for this type of opponent, however.

Villa won't come here looking for a draw with a defensive set-up, they will come at us and maybe we can exploit the gaps.

I would not risk McNeil tomorrow, I'd have him fit and ready for Wednesday night because there's another substantial break for us after that I believe?

A point wouldn't be the worst result on earth but I'd think at some stage we need to start getting wins on the board to put distance between us and Luton.

Rob Halligan
37 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:38:25
Les #33…

I've been told our net spend over the last five years is £32M, so it's highly unlikely we will be getting any further points deductions.

Frank Fearns
38 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:39:56
I don't mind who plays providing they give it their all for the cause but I hope that Calvert-Lewin is not running a lone furrow. Probably the hardest position on the pitch.

He has unfairly been getting some stick to the extent that some were pleased that he'd get a ban!! Couldn't believe such comments.

Just do it today, blue boys.

Jim Bennings
39 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:45:30
Frank @39,

I don't think anyone would be pleased to see Calvert-Lewin being given a ban, nor do I think comments were unfair.

Sometimes in life, constructive criticism is needed and that's not just something aimed at Dominic.

He's been up front alone, yes, but he's not converting enough chances when they do come along; the chances have been coming, it's just we aren't making loads.

I also think the irony of his red card at Palace is he's not an aggressive player but I actually do want him to be a more aggressive player – not in the way he's hurting opponents physically but he needs to be far more of a bully against defenders, he's far too passive still I think.

Beto comes on and he's a very uncultured style of forward isn't he, he's not refined he's rather gangly but he gets in the faces of defenders and I don't think they enjoy playing against him.

Brian Williams
40 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:47:01
Rob #38.

It wasn't that same "stranger" that told you, was it?

Brian Williams
41 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:49:13
Jim #37.

McNeil's not fit so he can't play. I don't know where people have got the idea that McNeil's close to fitness. He's not, and Dyche said as much in his presser.

Jim Bennings
43 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:54:13
Brian,

Dyche said McNeil is touch and go so it wouldn't shock me at all if he actually even started him.

Dyche trusts McNeil, you can see that, and he's not one to mince words in his press conference; if Dwight was out, then Dyche wouldn't give it a load of flannel.

Dean Johnson
44 Posted 13/01/2024 at 12:59:58
We so need Doucouré back and Keane sold.
Dale Self
45 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:00:49
Dave 25, thanks for that.
Jim Lloyd
46 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:01:41
I like Danjuma, a more than decent player, though he tends to hang on to the ball a bit too much. But it just shows how we need back-up when we get injuries. It would leave us short of another squad player if he goes somewhere else for the rest of the season. I suppose it might be decided on whether we can bring any other players in.

As for the Villa match, I'll be glad if we get a draw, bloody ecstatic if we win.

Rob Halligan
47 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:08:07
Haha Brian, no. It was actually a WhatsApp message from a mate, a table showing all 20 Premier League clubs including the three promoted clubs last season.

We are third bottom in this table, with only Luton and Brighton below us. Brighton have an incredible net plus of £76M. Again, how true it is, I don't know.

Tony Everan
48 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:13:22
I don't think we will see McNeil tomorrow, even on the bench; it's a match too soon considering what Dyche said….

“It looked a nasty one, and it felt nasty at the time, but it has settled quick. This one, touch and go; doubt he will make this one, but the next one, he has got a chance.”

Doucoure he was more upbeat about and the fact we are not playing on Saturday and he has an extra day is a bonus. i Think this will be the team:

Pickford
Coleman Tarkowski Branthwaite Mykolenko
Garner Onana
Harrison Doucoure Danjuma
Calvert-Lewin

A strong team that, COYBLUES!

Ray Roche
49 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:15:32
The same bellend VAR has just called a yellow card for Gusto in a far worse tackle than Calvert-Lewin made……🤦🏼‍♂️
Frank Fearns
50 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:32:36
Jim @40,

I agree with what you say re Calvert-Lewin and Beto – culture v unculture perhaps?

Whatever style is preferred, I still would like to see 2 upfront rather than support coming from midfield. Never enough or in time for me as no matter how big and gangly you are or with a deft clever touch you have, if there is no one alongside, you can't lay off.

I suppose something of everything – hard to come by – Haaland probably in these times, but I lean towards culture that Everton have had in days gone bye.

Wonder how both playing together would work. I think opposition defences would find it tough.

Dave Abrahams
52 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:35:38
I think a lot of Villa's play goes through McGinn; put Onana on him and tell him to concentrate for the whole game. If Onana does a good job on McGinn, we have a good chance of getting something out of this game. I'm not saying Villa are a one-man team but they do rely a lot on the Scotsman.

Danjuma can help out tomorrow if he does a lot more than he did in the Palace game, for 20 minutes at the start of the game, he did very well, then he faded for the rest of the first half, and faded even further in the second half.

Maybe he's better on the left than the right wing but if he can play on the right I think his speed against Digne will cause problems for Villa.

Another nail-biting one-goal win for the Toffees, hopefully.

Jimmy Carr
53 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:39:18
Three points would be massive tomorrow. I expect a decent performance after the showing at Palace where we often looked composed and in control. Please don't fanny around with Michael Keane and a 3-5-2, Sean, four at the back please.

I think Danjuma has put himself under a bit of pressure with his shenanigans this week. I hope he responds to it. He was excellent in the first half at Palace. Here's his chance to make himself undroppable. COYB!

John Chambers
54 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:41:42
Rob, I presume that is a net spend on transfers.

Problem has been we've spent a stupid amount on wages as well, I think it was over 90% of income some years.

Then there is the compensation to Benitez, Kidman, Silva etc – plenty of other ways for us to have wasted money!!

Rob Halligan
55 Posted 13/01/2024 at 13:44:33
Yep, John, I think you're probably right on that one.
Jerome Shields
56 Posted 13/01/2024 at 14:05:09
I'm glad Everton got a result against Palace. It puts them in better stead for this game.

Doucoure will not be match fit, so a lot can't be expected of him. At least Gomes will be available as a sub and Villa may not have a plan to mark him.

Hopefully escaping a red card will have Calvert_Lewin getting in front of his marker. He needs to stand out on the wing and look if he could get a ball to a forward running between two defenders, without checking back to create space and one that that does not attack the near post.

Beto would be better to come on earlier in the second half to help Everton keep their shape, preventing Aston Villa pushing up in support of their attack.

Danny O’Neill
58 Posted 13/01/2024 at 14:45:10
I agree with your sentiment on McGinn, Dave.

He has really impressed me and I'd say he's key to Villa

Nullify him and they will be less effective.

Brian Williams
61 Posted 13/01/2024 at 15:18:28
FFS we had to pay off Nicole Kidman as well? Jeez!
Barry Hesketh
62 Posted 13/01/2024 at 15:30:08
Brian @62,

Nicole Kidman would have done a better job than Koeman and she would have raised the profile of our club a lot more than the Dutchman did.

Christy Ring
64 Posted 13/01/2024 at 16:26:44
Brian #42,

I watched Dyche's press conference, and he said McNeil was touch and go for the Villa game, but would definitely be available for the following game.

Mike Gaynes
65 Posted 13/01/2024 at 16:52:40
Roberto #58,

Villa is playing their best football in 30 years and we're on a 5-game skid at the moment. So of course we're gonna win. Naturally.

Billy Shears
66 Posted 13/01/2024 at 16:54:24
Bound to be a bit of a battle this one but I reckon the Blues will be good enough to gain a point from the game.

1-1 methinks.

Brian Williams
67 Posted 13/01/2024 at 16:57:27
Christy#65.

Not quite.

He said.

“It looked a nasty one, and it felt nasty at the time, but it has settled quick. This one, touch and go; doubt he will make this one, but the next one, he has got a chance“

Got a chance, not "definitely make the next one."

John Keating
68 Posted 13/01/2024 at 20:23:53
We had a word with John and told him to have an off day tomorrow. Just laughed.

To think we could have had him for £3 million. Sickening.

David West
69 Posted 13/01/2024 at 21:12:24
Honestly, I've been a bit out of love with the game for a bit now. Lots of factors. The greed, the (unfair) points deduction, the biased refereeing, the ridiculous pundits, the ridiculous red card… I could go on!!

I'll never stop supporting the blues, going when I can, watching every match I'm not at, checking all the media for stories every 20 minutes.

I've just grown tired of the constant negativity thrown our way. Every day another story of how we will be fined, deducting points, takeover failing, administration on the cards, blah blah blah!!

However, since just before Christmas, I've decided not to read all the bollocks posted on news websites. I've just said I'm going to think about the games, the squad, the players we have, who's going to play and who's not.

I've found I'm happier, not necessarily with the results or performances but, even if we get wins and points, the media bring us down, hit us with more negative press and I end up stressed all over again!!

So I'm only talking football no!! Players, tactics, squad, formation. We are football fans, we shouldn't have to know the ins & outs of PSR, rolling 3-year accounting periods, Covid write-offs or the interest on loan repayments!! I'm sick of it all!!!!!

I'm buzzing we will have Doucouré back. Danjuma was bright against Palace and has a point to prove. Coleman is well "Coleman" … Nuff said!

It won't be an easy match against a team who will want to put right the cup result. Play 4-4-1-1 – that back 4 of Coleman, Branthwaite, Tarkowski & Mykolenko is our best. If we are solid, we have the opportunity to nick this: 3 points.

Peter Mills
70 Posted 13/01/2024 at 21:21:05
I’m half way though a 6 game weekend.

Forefield Rangers U-10s lost 0-3

Forefield Rangers U-8s lost 1-3

Marine won 4-0 against Stafford Rangers, (3 very nice goals in this match, catch them on YouTube if you can).

I’m not going to tell the Forefield Rangers grandsons, but a similar sequence of results tomorrow would do just fine!

David West - I couldn’t agree more.

Andy Crooks
71 Posted 13/01/2024 at 21:39:28
Pete, two important games lost. One big game won. Allow Everton to salvage the weekend. We will win.
Andy Crooks
72 Posted 13/01/2024 at 21:41:27
Meant to add, let's not big up our opponents. Let's big them down.
David West
73 Posted 13/01/2024 at 21:46:11
The Dyche comments on McNeil I see as him not wanting to give away his team selection. If he says McNeil isn't playing, it tells the opposition who's playing as we don't have many options, they can then set up accordingly.

I don't expect McNeil to play but I get Dyche playing the game!! Giving nothing away .

Tom Bowers
74 Posted 13/01/2024 at 21:56:12
Doesn't matter if it is Villa or Burnley every game is tough and even more so for the Blues give our topsey turvey season.

We never really know what to expect but I a hoping we can put in a good shift against a team playing really well.

Obviously the defence has to come up big against Watkins and Bailey and it would be nice for Calvert-Lewin to celebrate the appeal for his ridiculous sending-off.

Barry Rathbone
75 Posted 13/01/2024 at 22:14:30
This is a game we have a shot at.

Villa are over-achieving and aren't in the Man City or Liverpool league where, 9 times out of 10, we're beat before the first whistle. It depends on them having an off day and us playing… but it is possible.

Most likely result is 3-nil to the Villa.

Derek Knox
76 Posted 14/01/2024 at 07:05:27
Barry @75,

You confuse me at times and probably most others too. You start off by being positive, then decline into: "What's the point of turning up?" mode. We will get whacked 0-3! :-)

Steve Shave
77 Posted 14/01/2024 at 08:23:49
Stuart Graham, have a wonderful experience today on your first trip to the ol' gal, please bring us good fortune.

To those above saying the game under the VAR has become a lottery, that would imply we are in with an equal shout for decisions to go our way. It doesn't feel like that right now and Dyche's comments about us not having a single penalty this season would re-enforce my view.

Doucouré has to go straight in if nearly fit, he himself has stated often he is able to do this; why is he not with Mali in the Afcon, btw?

Tough, tough match, I predict, but Villa have slipped a little lately. Good side though and ol' Count Dracula has done a marvellous job, one of those managers who operate best steering one of the 'best of the rest' teams a la Villarreal where he was fantastic.

I don't think we will see any incomings or outgoings this window but I see once again Tom Fellows was lively for West Brom and scored yesterday, one to watch. We need to get back to winning ways; that period a while back was exhilarating and we shouldn't let some losses against good teams derail us, especially when we were the better side in some. COYB.

Dave Cashen
78 Posted 14/01/2024 at 08:24:22
"Villa are over-achieving"... What?

Sounds like that league table (the one that never lies) is telling porkies again.

You have to give credit where it's due. Unai Emery is bravely playing the increasingly fashionable high line and he is getting a lovely tune out of his players. I think they will do one of the North London teams out of a Champions League place.

That said, the best way to undo a high line is to break through with players running from deep.

Shame about McNeil's absence, but I believe we can get some joy when Villa attacks break down and we counter.

I think we win this one.

Kevin Edward
79 Posted 14/01/2024 at 08:41:51
Villa are having a great season so far and this is a tough one.
I can't see Villa not scoring, so we need to put chances away and that's been a problem again recently. But we did well in the Cup game at Villa Park so nothing to fear.

So Up the Toffees. 3:2 victory, but with a lot of nail chewing and hiding behind the sofa. We could really do with at least a point at Goodison to get the momentum back, 3 points would be massive. UTFT!

Joe McMahon
80 Posted 14/01/2024 at 09:29:52
This won't be popular I know, but I'd like Virginia to get a run in the team. I just don't want to see Pickford barking and screaming at his team mates for this one.

In the match v Palace, he did pull off a cracker of a save, it would do his confidence some good.

Stuart Graham
81 Posted 14/01/2024 at 10:40:16
Thanks all for recommendations - in the Winslow waiting for it to warm up. Predicting 2-1...
Dave Abrahams
82 Posted 14/01/2024 at 11:05:30
Stuart (81),

Do yourself a favour and have a look in The Big House later tonight, it's on Lime St. where you are staying.

It was once was a big favourite pub for many people but it was left to rot and went downhill. Now, it has been rejuvenated and it is well worth having a drink in, and at the end of the night, you are nearly home.

Stuart Graham
83 Posted 14/01/2024 at 11:11:06
Cheers Dave, will do!
Brian Hennessy
84 Posted 14/01/2024 at 11:22:39
I'm going for 3-1 thanks to a Danjuma hat-trick and a Villa sending off. The latter has to happen at some stage!
Barry Rathbone
85 Posted 14/01/2024 at 11:50:36
Derek @76,

I just recognise we aren't very good but acknowledge even moderate teams win when the stars align. So this is one of those games we have a shot at… but, if the Villa impetus and confidence continues and we revert to shrinking violets, we will get a stuffing.

I can't do "positive" for positivity's sake – that is the mother and father of delusion and a big reason the club is a shadow of its former self. Until someone of real influence gets "real" at the club, our descent into the abyss is nailed on.

Dave Cashen @78, wait till the end of the season to see if the league table lies.

Dale Self
86 Posted 14/01/2024 at 12:14:17
Derek 76, let me help out there. The positive stuff is the setup for the joke.
Sean Mitchell
87 Posted 14/01/2024 at 12:39:20
I'd have rather had Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise as her assistant than the hapless Koeman and Walsh.
Dave Abrahams
88 Posted 14/01/2024 at 13:00:29
On the live forum one person is saying Doucoure is stating and McNeil is on the bench.

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