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Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Premier League
Sunday 20 August 2023; 2:00pm
Aston Villa
4 0
McGinn 18', Douglas Luiz (pen) 24'
Bailey 51', Duran 75'
HT: 2 - 0 
Attendance: 41,694
Fixture 2
Referee: Anthony Taylor

Match Reports
2023-24 Reports Index
« Previous Fulham (H)
» Next Wolves (h)
  Digne booked
  Douglas Luiz booked (Coutinho 64' (Archer 85' booked))
  Diaby (Diego Carlos 64')
  Bailey (Tielemans 63')
  Watkins (Duran 74')
  Subs not used

  Pickford booked
  Patterson booked
  Keane booked
  Gueye booked (Dobbin 46')
  Iwobi (Maupay 51')
  Doucoure (Onyango 90'+8)
  Calvert-Lewin (Danjuma 38')
  Subs not used
  Unavailable booked
  Alli (injured)
  Coleman (injured)
  Gbamin (injured)
  Harrison (injured)
  McNeil (injured)

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Nott'm Forest 2-1 Sheff United
Fulham 0-3 Brentford
Liverpool 3-1 Bournemouth
Luton P-P Burnley
Man City 1-0 Newcastle
Tottenham 2-0 Man United
Wolves 1-4 Brighton
Aston Villa 4-0 Everton
West Ham 3-1 Chelsea
C Palace 0-1 Arsneal

1 Brighton & Hove Albion 6
2 Manchester City 6
3 Arsenal 6
4 Brentford 4
5 Tottenham Hotspur 4
5 Liverpool 4
5 West Ham United 4
8 Newcastle United 3
9 Aston Villa 3
10 Nottingham Forest 3
11 Crystal Palace 3
12 Manchester United 3
13 Fulham 3
14 Chelsea 1
14 Bournemouth 1
16 Sheffield United 0
17 Luton Town 0
18 Burnley 0
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
20 Everton 0

Match Report

Round and round and round we go. A change in manager, a couple of new players. Hope followed by disappointment then humiliation and despair. This is the lot for Evertonians and has been throughout almost all of the disastrous reign of Farhad Moshiri and, in truth, further back to the second season under Roberto Martinez.

And still the fans show up; still they sell out away games up and down the country, only to be served up dross like they witnessed today at Villa Park against an opposition club, it shouldn’t be forgotten, were in a similar situation as Everton a year ago, at least in terms of having a young manager who would soon prove beyond doubt that he was a demonstrable failure.

Aston Villa sacked Steven Gerrard in October last year and hired a serial winner in Unai Emery; Everton persisted with Frank Lampard for three more months and plumped for Sean Dyche as the best option to try keep the club in the Premier League. The two old vanguards of the English game are now on two wildly different trajectories.

Dyche, of course, fulfilled that brief — just! — and, as a David Moyes-esque pragmatist, appeared to be a sound choice as part of a longer-term objective of stability and, perhaps, modest improvement while the off-the-pitch drama plays out, Moshiri (hopefully!) brings in investment or simply sells the club, and the construction of Bramley-Moore Dock is completed.

Harrowingly, though, any Evertonians (most of us, then) who felt sure that the Blues would be harder to beat this season under Dyche, who now has his feet fully under the desk and has had a full pre-season to hone and drill his players, were swiftly disabused of that notion this afternoon. Many of them walked out as the scoreline worsened. How long before they just stop showing up to begin with?

This was as bad as anything Lampard or Rafael Benitez before him served up. The void in midfield as vast as it was at times under the former during the first half of last season; the defence was equally as error-prone and porous and, as Dyche admitted afterwards, he could have changed the entire team at half-time.

Instead, though, he withdrew just one — Idrissa Gueye, who had picked up a booking during a first-half display every bit as bad as the one that saw him hooked at the Emirates at the start of March and which seemed to be the kick up the backside he needed — and shifted James Garner to central midfield alongside the persistently disappointing Amadou Onana.

Just as he was last week against Fulham, Garner had failed to track the run of the scorer of the opening goal but still being relatively young and experienced, he will surely learn. He was also being played out of position, along with too many other players, and, back in central midfield for the second period he was several shades better. Sadly, clangers from more seasoned heads in the side would ensure that there would be no way back from a 2-0 half-time deficit.

One of those was Ashley Young, who at the age of 38 must surely know better than to attempt a long throw-in into no-man’s-land in front of the defence to a centre-half in Michael Keane who is often uncertain at the best of times. And especially after the same defender had been caught embarrassingly flat-footed off a Villa throw 14 minutes earlier, hesitation and a desperate stretch for the ball that allowed Leon Bailey to effectively put the game beyond Everton’s reach.

In truth, however, the game was long gone in the first period after Villa had gone into a 2-0 lead and Dominic Calvert-Lewin had been forced to give up trying to play on with blurred vision following a hefty collision with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez that left both players dazed and the Everton striker with a rapidly swelling face.

The incident had happened just 10 minutes into Calvert-Lewin’s latest much-anticipated comeback game with him looking fit and sharp but it was clear he wasn’t right afterwards. As the expression goes — if it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all when it comes to injuries.

If there was a sliver of optimism, though, it came in the form of his replacement, Arnaut Danjuma who looked lively, dangerous and full of running. He came off the bench in the second half for the second game running, presumably because he wasn’t “Dyche fit”; he has to start against Wolves next week.

Everton actually started well enough during what was an even first quarter of an hour but after Moussa Diaby had skied an early effort, Everton fell irretrievably behind when Bailey drove to the byline and cut the ball back to John McGinn who 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. True to form from the match officials, the Everton keeper was penalised where Manchester United’s Andre Onana was let off a week ago for an even more blatant foul.

Douglas 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 Gueye gave up possession in his own half, Douglas Luiz played Diaby in but his shot was saved by Pickford.

Then, when Doucouré lost an aerial challenge, Lucas 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 knock it past 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 left them rock bottom after two games played.

It took Dyche far too long to realise that a central defence with Keane in it is one with an inherent weakness and it was no surprise that when his former Burnley charge was taken out of the side for the four most important games at the end of last season, the Blues were able to pick up the points they needed to survive.

It’s no fun singling out specific players, particularly on a day when so many other players were abjectly bad but the statistics with Keane in the side make for grim reading — in the 20 games under Dyche where Keane has started, Everton have picked up 8 points and conceded 25 goals; without him, the team’s record is 13 points and only 9 conceded. (Hat-tip to @saywattharry for the stats.)

It’s not mere coincidence and Dyche’s blind spot regarding the 30-year-old was a major reason why some fans questioned whether the manager was the right man to take the club forward this season.

Yerry Mina may not have played very much but on the occasions he did, he gave a very clear indication of the kind of player Everton needed to sign to, first, cover for him and, now, replace him. That there is not a shred of evidence that Kevin Thelwell is even looking to bolster the defence with 11 days left of the transfer window is deeply concerning but the time has very definitely come to see if Jarrad Branthwaite can do the job.

For the rest of the side, this is going to be an important week of reflection and then hard work and focus to ensure that they come out on the right side of an early-season six-pointer against Wolves. Otherwise, psychologically, things could begin to spiral out of control very quickly.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton travel to Villa Park for their first away game of the season with Sean Dyche deciding that Dominic Calvert-Lewin, having completed his planned programme of rehabilitation, is all set for Premier League action in Sunday afternoon's game.

It's the only change from last week as Dyche is still without Dwight McNeil, Seamus Coleman, Dele Alli, Youssef Chermiti, the supposedly injured Jean-Philippe Gbamin, and new loan signing Jack Harrison, while Arnaut Danjuma is included only as a substitute alongside former U21 players Cannon, Onyango and Dobbin. 

And Michael Keane continues to be preferred by Sean Dyche ahead of the exciting young prospect Jarrad Branthwaite who more than anything needs game time in the Premier League. 

The home side kicked off and immediately won a corner off Garner, McGinn winning a second corner after which Garner released Iwobi but the cross was poor. Iwobi was then stopped easily and Villa looked to slow things down a little. 

Everton had some possession but the forward balls were too challenging.  At the other end, Diaby's first shot was wildly high over Pickford's goal. Doucoure tried to play in Calvert-Lewin but too close to Martinez, and a nasty clash with the Everton player running straight into the Villa goalkeeper and ending up with a big swelling under his right eye. 

After some worrying treatment, Calvert-Lewin needed a concussion check before coming back on. Luiz was booked for a weak grab on Young. 

But Everton went behind far too easily when Diaby fed the ball out to Baily who went to the byeline and cut it back accurately to McGinn who could not miss.

Everton tried to respond but it was sporadic and formless, whereas wehnDiaby broke forward it looked a real threat until Young tackled him brilliantly but took a knock in the process. Patterson was next with a good tackle for a corner. 

In the rework, a ball in is clipped up by Watkins and cleared off the line by Patterson as Pickford lunges at Watkins with a left hook that barely catches him and the referee signals a penalty that is not overturned by the VAR – so much for protection to the referees? Luiz smashed it in despite Pickford's wide dive. Everton now in real trouble. 

Everton won a corner but it was collected easily by Martinez. McGinn danced forward with the Everton players backing away, and far too easily set up a shot that Pickford saved down low.  

Everton played it forward laboriously and Calvert-Lewin got the ball only to pass it straight to a defender.  Iwobi advanced only to deliver a weak cross straight at Martinez with no Everton players anywhere near it.

Digne delivered a cross and Diaby fashioned a tremendous volley that Pickford somehow pushed onto the post, across goal and out for a corner that was cleared.  But Villa were dominating the play and they came back again with another wicked cross that Young was able to head away.

The condition of Calvert-Lewin was a concern though, and he was finally switched out for Aurnaut Danjuma. He lasted just 37 minutes. Another Digne cross caused absolute havoc, with Watkins almost scoring at the far post. 

Danjuma did well to hold a forward ball up under pressure and Young eventually crossed but it was easily defended, with 9 minutes added before the break.  Danjuma was getting well involved and cut through to fire at Martinez from a narrow angle, winning a corner when he should perhaps have cut it back for someone else. 

But Everton were finally pressing well, denying Villa and playing forward but Patterson's cross was simply horrible. Keane felt he had to drag Watkins down at the expense of a yellow card. Digne again had acres of space with Patterson a long way from him, the cross cleared this time. 

McGinn almost found Diaby and Watkins almost got on the cross from Bailey. Gueye slid in on McGinn and he too got a yellow card just before the end of a disastrous half for Everton. 

Incredibly, Sean Dyche made a proactive and surprising change for the second half: a very young Lewis Dobbin on for the ageing and yellow-carded Idrissa Gana Gueye. Dobbin scampered down the left past Cash but just overran the line. 

Iwobi, now on the right, pulled up clutching his hamstring. He eventually hobbled off as Kamara had a shot that cannoned off Tarkowski as Maupay came on for Iwobi.

A dreadful mistake by Keane from a throw-in was pounced on by Bailey who hammered it past Pickford for the third killer Villa goal. Danjuma tried to shoot but it was blocked; his second attempt squirmed wide off a deflection. Tarkowski should have done more with Garner's corner. 

Garner had to clean up but Villa soon attacked again, Diaby scampering through and Watkins tried to clip it in but missed the far post. At least Danjuma showed some real zest down the left but smashed his cross too hard at Maupay. However, Everton got a corner that fell perfectly for Maupay at the far post and, with the goal at his mercy, Maupay fires straight at Martinez. 

A corner for Villa at the other end saw Trakowski take the ball off Bailey who stayed down before being one of three substituted. With the pace of the game slowing Villa worked it to Coutinho whose shot was saved by Pickford. At the other end, Carlos brushed away Maupay when it looked like he might fashion something.

Danjuma and Maupay were trying to create something but after the turnover, Keane did well to stop Watkins running in. Digne fouled but Garner's free-kick was easily repelled, Danjuma back quickly to dispossess Konsa. 

Duran came on for Watkins and profited immediately from a poor throw by Young and another horrible mistake by Keane, simply shocking from the Blues.

Everton did their best to regroup and try to halt the Villians' relentless progress, Danjuma doing his best to create something, but failing each time with no support. Coutinho tried and failed to beat Pickford from a long way out.

Danjuma had another go, and saw his shot deflected just past the angle for a corner. From the rework, Dobbin poked a hopeful (hopeless?) ball in straight to Martinez. Garner barged Coutinho who went down for plenty of treatment until withdrawn for Archer.

Patterson caught Lucas Digne needlessly for another yellow card before 9 minutes more were added. A misplaced forward punt from Keane was headed out generously for a corner that was cleared. A Garner free-kick was launched high for Martinez to catch easily.

Onana did well to win the ball back but Danjuma was less adventurous and it broke down yet again. Both teams played out the extended time with Everton utterly dejected by a dreadful performance that drops Everton to the very bottom of the Premier League after just 2 games. 

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Luiz [Y:15'] (64' Coutinho (86' Archer [Y:89'])), McGinn, Watkins (74' Duran), Digne [Y:32'], Pau, Diaby (64' Carlos), Bailey (64' Tielemans), Kamara.
Subs: Olsen, Marschall, Traore, Chambers.

Everton: Pickford [ Y:22'], Young, Tarkowski, Keane [Y:45+4'], Patterson [Y:86'], Garner, Gana [Y:45+9'] (46' Dobbin), Onana, Doucoure (90+8' Onyango), Iwobi (52' Maupay), Calvert-Lewin (38' Danjuma).
Subs: Virginia, Mykolenko, Godfrey, Branthwaite, Cannon.

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Everton travel to Villa Park this Sunday for their first away game of the season looking to not only pick up their first points of the new season but also improve on what was a horrendous record on the road during 2022-23.

The Blues won just two games away from Goodison Park last season which compounded a record-equalling 10 home defeats to keep the club in danger of relegation right the way to the final game of the campaign.

Manager Sean Dyche wasn’t able to start his first full season in charge with a victory as his charges went down 1-0 to Fulham last Saturday but he will be bolstered this weekend by the return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The striker has endured two years of stop-start availability since first suffering a serious quad injury in August 2021 and then a knee injury on the eve of last season, with frustrating hamstring problems keeping him from ever putting a consistent run of games together.

However, with Dyche having made a commitment to try and get to the bottom of his soft-tissue niggles and ensure that he is 100% ready to return to action rather than rush him back, Calvert-Lewin has undergone a summer of patient fitness and rehab work that he and the club's medical staff hope will enable him to finally return for a sustained spell.

Whether he starts against Villa remains to be seen but, having played 45 minutes in each of the friendlies against Sporting CP and AC Monza and then coming through a 90-minute practice match at Manchester United's Carrington training complex on Tuesday, he is in the frame for Everton's second fixture of 2023-24.

"He is in good shape," Dyche said in his pre-match press conference today. "He managed to get the sort of end part of his rehab with 90 minutes [this week] and he certainly comes straight back into the thinking."

The last time Calvert-Lewin was consistently available across a season was in 2020-21 under Carlo Ancelotti when he scored 21 goals in all competitions, broke into the England setup and made the squad for the delayed 2020 European Championships. Since then he has managed 15 Premier League starts in successive seasons and scored seven times.

As he showed in most of the games where he was available last term, and particularly in Everton’s stunning 5-1 win at Brighton in May, he provides a hugely important different dimension to the attack when he is in the side and the hope is that he can play a vital role in improving the Toffees’ away form.

They take on a Villa side that looked hugely impressive last season after Unai Emery took over from Steven Gerrard and the Midlanders have continued to recruit well, adding the likes of Pau Torres, Moussa Diaby and Youri Tielemans over the summer.

Torres is likely to make his full debut this weekend after Tyrone Mings suffered a serious knee injury at St James’s Park last Saturday as the Villans took a hiding from Newcastle. Emery’s men went down 5-1 to the rampant Magpies and Dyche will no doubt be hoping his men can play on any psychological weakness that might exist in the minds of his opponents on Sunday.

Neither of the players who got the goals in Villa’s 2-1 win in this fixture at the same stage of last season will be involved this time — Danny Ings was sold to West Ham in January and Emiliano Buendia is out injured — but in players like Olly Watkins and Leon Bailey they have threats who have caused Everton plenty of problems before.

While Dyche could replace Neal Maupay with Calvert-Lewin, the manager is otherwise expected to go with the same side that lined up against Fulham, unless he feels that Arnaut Danjuma is ready to play his part from the start.

The Dutchman picked up a knock in pre-season, missed the game against Sporting and only came on as a sub against Fulham but he, too, logged important minutes earlier in the week in the match against Man Utd and could be seen as a more dangerous option on the flanks than James Garner who played out of position in right midfield last weekend.

Dwight McNeil is back in light training as he recovers from ankle ligament damage that looks likely to keep him out until at least the international break.

“He’s going alright,” the manager replied. “I spoke to him today. [He’s] just on at the light stuff now, but getting back, not quite back on the grass, but in the running and really building a true strength to his ankle.”

On the topic of Jean-Philippe Gbamin, who has not returned to Finch Farm following his loan spell at Trabsonspor last season and is said to be in Paris recovering from his latest injury, Dyche was unable to provide any updates but the belief is that Everton will listen to offers for a player whose agent suggests won’t play for the club again with his contract up at the end of the season. 

"He is not back with us at the moment,” Dyche explained. “We are monitoring the situation."

When asked if the Ivorian midfielder will be allowed to leave, Dyche said: "We need an offer to come in first."

Kick-off: 2 pm, Sunday 20 August 2023
Referee: Anthony Taylor
VAR: Darren England

Last Time: Aston Villa 2 - 1 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Patterson, Keane, Tarkowski, Young, Gueye, Onana, Iwobi, Danjuma, Doucouré, Calvert-Lewin

Lyndon Lloyd

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