14/01/2024 5comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 0 Aston Villa

An increasingly fractious contest that yielded five yellow cards and could have been more ended all square at Goodison Park

Everton registered a second successive 0-0 draw and failed to find the net for the third game running in an occasionally testy but generally poor match against Premier League high-flyers Aston Villa at Goodison Park. 

Either team could have won it – the visitors thought they had taken the lead in the 18th minute but Alex Moreno's goal was chalked off for offside while Dominic Calvert-Lewin wasted what was easily the best chance of the game on the stroke of half-time – but, on the whole, Sean Dyche's team were probably the more grateful for the hard-earned point.

Abdoulaye Doucouré returned from injury to add legs and dynamism to the forward line but found it difficult to make an impact in the final third, Arnaut Danjuma largely failed to convince by snatching at a couple of decent openings, while Calvert-Lewin's form remains a real cause for concern.

In keeping with their form this season that had them sitting second in the table coming into the match, Villa were superior in almost all departments, with Everton struggling to hit their passes and managing just two shots on target in the entire 90-plus minutes of play.

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The Toffees had started the brighter of the two teams and created the first chance after five minutes when Jack Harrison dug out a cross that floated towards the back post but Danjuma made a mess of a right-foot volley and Vitalii Mykolenko ballooned into the Park End after the ball had broken back to him as the attacked remained alive in Villa's box.

Douglas Luiz's tug on Jarrad Branthwaite handed James Garner a chance to work Emiliano Martinez from a direct free-kick but fired straight into the wall before Unai Emery's sounded their first signal of intent in the 13th minute when a quick move through the centre of the hosts' midfield saw Ollie Watkins play in Moussa Diaby but Jordan Pickford made a smart save.

Five minutes after that, Everton's defence was again caught out by a short-corner routine, with Moreno not covered on the edge of the box as the ball was worked out to him. He swept an accurate shot through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner from 20 yards but, after a lengthy check by Video Assistant Referee, Paul Tierney, the goal was ruled out for offside.

It was a let-off for the Blues but Villa remained on top and after Watkins flashed a centre across the face of goal, Seamus Coleman was out-muscled by Diaby and when Leon Bailey was found in space in the box, it took another good save from Pickford to keep out his shot, the England stopper turning it behind with his left glove.

With less than 10 minutes remaining of the regulation 45, Garner snapped into a tackle in midfield and found Danjuma who drove into the area but saw his shot blocked behind and, at the resulting corner Douglas Luiz – a serial offender who somehow avoided a yellow card – appeared to haul Calvert-Lewin down but a check by VAR yielded no penalty for Everton.

They should have taken the lead as the game moved into eight minutes of time added on when Danjuma sent Calvert-Lewin into the clear behind Villa's high line but as Martinez raced out to cover the angles, the striker struck the ball too close to the keeper who made an instinctive and impressive save with an out-stretched boot.

Doucouré picked up the rebound and tried to dribble his way back into the danger area when the ball broke to Garner and his deflected right-foot shot was heading for the corner until Martinez clawed it behind with an out-stretched hand.

The second half was quiet in terms of goalmouth action until Villa burst away on the counter-attack but Watkins' shot was blocked behind by a covering challenge from Garner and John McGinn drove wide from the edge of the area on the hour mark.

A minute later, Everton had a rare look when another Harrison cross found Danjuma in the middle but the Dutchman's right-foot shot lacked conviction and bounced disappointingly wide.

He was replaced a couple of minutes later by Dwight McNeil, who made a surprisingly swift recovery from what had appeared to be a serious injury sustained at Palace 10 days ago, while Beto came on for Calvert-Lewin but the changes failed to yield any change to the pattern of the game.

In the meantime, the match became increasingly fractious and bad-tempered, with referee David Coote mystifyingly booking Tarkowski after he had been barged by a number of claret shirts and the incident threatened to flare up into a bout of handbags near the touchline.

Doucouré looked for a brief moment as though he might be able to spring away after beating the offside trap but the visiting defence got back in time to snuff out any chance he might create while, at the other end, Villa tried to ratchet up the pressure in search of a late winner.

Pickford had to two-fist a dangerous cross away from danger in the 79th minute while, in the 86th, a double block in front of Everton's goal kept the clean sheet intact after Moreno had been allowed to serve up yet another cross from the visitors' left flank.

First, Mykolenko made a crucial block to deny substitute Matty Cash and Coleman got in the way of the follow-up from McGinn while another sub, John Duran, flicked wide a couple of minutes later. 

Doucouré raced away and had the ball in the net two minutes from the end of the 90 but his goal was called back for a clear offside, Duran dropped a header wide of the far post and Amadou Onana skied a dreadful shot into the Street End before the referee called time.

Dyche will, no doubt, reflect on a point well-earned against a very good side that has emerged in recent weeks as viable title contenders, one that restores the margin between Everton and Luton Town above the relegation zone but this was a concerning performance in many ways.

Everton lacked the intensity and conviction of some of their performances before and even during the Festive season when they looked more effective and composed going forward even in defeat to the likes of Tottenham and Manchester City.

And they looked fairly toothless in attack where Calvert-Lewin's lack of self-belief appears to have become a mental stumbling block as his recent run stretched to just one goal in his last 13 matches.

Wednesday's FA Cup replay against Crystal Palace provides a chance back in front of the Goodison faithful from which to build a platform of confidence ahead of a tricky trip to Fulham in the Toffees' next Premier League game but it's hard not to feel the urgent need for an injection of something fresh via the loan market before the transfer deadline at the end of the month. 




Reader Comments (5)

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Peter Moore
1 Posted 14/01/2024 at 19:03:01
Watched on the box. That late Doucoure goal was euphoric, til I saw it was chalked off for offside.

Seemed to my eyes like two sides quite well matched in terms of effectiveness and cutting edge.

Their World Cup Winner in goal kept out Calvert-Lewin's effort but was powerless to stop Doucoure's cracking finish. If only the offsides were swapped round, we need the points, so would have been a cracking win.

The wait for winning home form continues still. UTFT

Peter Dodds
2 Posted 14/01/2024 at 19:07:31
Calvert-Lewin 's was *not* a good shot – virtually in the centre of the goal, barely to the side of the keeper – hence he was able to get near it. Still a decent save.

As for Danjuma, lovely pass to Calvert-Lewin for his “goal”, but also signs of his ongoing selfishness – in the first half, he could have slipped in Calvert-Lewin or Garner but chose to shoot straight at the defender.

Colin Battison
3 Posted 15/01/2024 at 02:46:30
Lyndon, Fair assessment of the game but after all the rumours it seems like what happens on the pitch from now on has become irrelevant. The corrupt Premier league unless your one of the 6 has decided it no longer wants us in the league. A breakaway league has to be the way forward as this should not be allowed to carry on any longer. I'm a fan of 50 years and PL football is now beyond a joke and I'm very saddened how it's become. It stinks with a capital S.
Pete Jeffries
4 Posted 15/01/2024 at 10:20:30
Calvert-Lewin should watch Vinicius's first goal for Real Madrid yesterday v Barca, he rounded the keeper at speed, great finish.
Mark Murphy
5 Posted 15/01/2024 at 17:45:13
I had a severely restricted view from the back of the Lower Glwadys but I was convinced until reading this that it was Beto who scored the disallowed goal. Most people around me seemed to think the same.

That booking for Tarkowski was 100% caused by the Villa players pushing and shoving Tarkowski and the ref responded when he wasn't going to back down.

Another example of Premier League Twattery by the opposition and we suffer again. Are we the only team in the league who don't pressure the ref after every tackle or touch?

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