Match Report 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. 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. Lyndon Lloyd top Matchday Updates Everton and Aston Villa played out a niggly stoppage-ridden apology for a football match at Goodison Park in front of the Sky cameras in this afternoon's Premier League clash. Abdoulaye Doucouré returns to the first team while Dwight McNeil is fit enough to appear on the bench as he quickly recovers from his knee injury. Arnaut Danjuma is given a starting spot in his place. The visitors kicked off but it was pretty well contested stuff, Garner getting a smack in the face from Kamara. Pickford's deep free-kick saw someone offside. Good steady build-up by Everton won the first corner, but Marinez gobbled it up. Harrison got down the wing and put in a great cross that Danjuma looked to volley but he hit it all wrong and did nothing with it when the ball came back to him. Onana was well on it to take the ball off Douglas Luiz but had to lunge at it and keeper Martinez. From another Everton free-kick, Douglas Luiz was called for pulling Branthwaite's shirt (why no yellow card?) but Garner drove the set-piece into the Villa wall. Danjuma overlapped brilliantly and crossed in well for Doucoure but he couldn't get his feet around the ball and missed the chance to score. A great start from Everton but, as ever, nothing to show for it. It was 12 minutes before Villa really mounted an attack, Watkins not fooling Pickford with a clever shot to the far side of goal. Douglas Luiz committed yet another foul, this one on Onana. Villa then had a spell of pressure until Onana stole it back but overhit his through ball for Calvert-Lewin, Villa responding by winning a corner. It was worked short and Moreno lashed a good shot inside Pickford. Danjuma was seriously obstructed in the 6-yard area by Linglet in the build-up and the VAR looked at offside, with the Everton player dragged to the floor, and they took an age to finally decide that the goal should not stand. Offside, but it should have been for the foul on Danjuma. Villa pushed forward again, winning another corner that was cleared but Harrison could not challenge McGinn cleanly to set up a counter, and Villa came at them again. The Blues responded well but Harrison's pass forward to play in Calvert-Lewin was woefully under-hit. Pickford showed rash judgement, rushing out to the wing for a forward ball bouncing ahead of Moreno. Luckily Coleman was across in a flash to rescue him with a welly into Row Z. But Villa got through twice more, the second a goalbound shot by Bailey that was saved brilliantly by Pickford down to his left. It was now almost all one-way traffic toward Pickford's goal, Everton with rare moments to counter that they only messed up. Watkins was shown a yellow for an aerial forearm smash to the head that drew blood from Tarkowski. Of course he had to leave the field for 30 seconds – not really feigning injury! Everton produced a tremendous press, but Danjuma was almost too greedy, his shot deflected behind for a corner that eventually forced a turnover. On the corner, Calvert-Lewin was pushed over by Douglas Luiz, again unpunished. Another Villa ball over the top for Watkins was finally flagged offside, with the crowd getting into it. Everton were running hard for the high press but Villa were able to break out only to be well thwarted. But Harrison was impeeded in midfield after he smacked the ball in Moreno's face. The deep free-kick in was messy and didn't stick. The ball just wasn't running for the Blue shirts, although there seemed a lot more in Claret every time they tried to get forward. A brilliant ball forward from Danjuma sent Calvert-Lewin free in on gaol and absolutely 100% certain to score. But of course, that's not what happened, the Everton striker's shot nowhere near good enough to beat Martinez's outstretched leg. From the corner, Garner's strike forced a much better one-handed save from Martinez. Everton looked to get behind the high Aston Villa back line but that meant three of them were offside for a fine deep cross that Mykolenko could only play in to Martinez. Coleman caught Moreno and the free-kick almost produced another goal for Villa but play was called back for a foul. Villa were so quick to threaten again but Pickford was out quickly to deny Diaby near the end of 8 minutes of added time. The second half began with Everton losing possession and Villa launching a high cross over everyone. But Everton were on the back foot, with key interceptions needed from Branthwaite and Tarkowski. Diego Carlos was booked after he lost the ball into touch for an Everton throw-in, then picked it up and tossed it infield to another teammate. Tarkowski and Mykolenko both went for the same ball and clashed heads horribly, Mykolenko needing the most attention and having to go off for treatment. Mykolenko retuned with his head bandaged. Everton kept Villa pinned back with some great high pressing, Danjuma again playing in Calvert-Lewin who lost it almost immediately. Garner was next to be in the wars, a hand in the face, but the free-kick was easily gathered by Martinez. Villa did well to break out and it looked like Diaby Villa won a corner would run on but Branthwaite brilliantly stole the ball off him before Villa won a corner that was cleared. Everton pressed forward again but Coleman's cross was repelled and Onana could not get a clear shot. Then Doucore lost the ball in an advanced position allowing Villa to counter, McGinn lashing a fearsome shot just wide. At the other end, Harrison crossed to Danjuma but his first-time shot screwed across goal and wide. And it was back up the other end for another Villa corner, DIaby unable to beat Pickford. Everton tried to break but Danjuma was offside. Beto and Mcneil came on, like for like, as per usual. Villa continued to get forward at pace, Duran firing wide. Everton got forward but McNeil overhit his first cross. The stoppages continued, Onana getting a painful knock in the crotch. Diego Carlos fouled Beto in midfield, Pickford stepping up to launch one from the centre-circle. Tarkwoski was restrained by Diego Carlos and he slid in strongly to dispossess Morneo, causing the Villa players to react, which caused the Everton players to grab their handbags. Coleman and Tielelmans wouldn't let it drop, but were not booked., with Diego Carlos wisely removed from the fray. But still it was fractious, Tielemans finally booked after being very aggressive. McNeil's free-kick easily plucked out of the air by Martinez. Villa came forward again but there was no power in the final header and Pickford launched a counter that petered out. Tarkowski took out his man from behind and that would normally be a yellow caard but he had already been booked. Villa kept up the pressure, Pickford having to punch away a cross. A tremendous curling shot from Tielemans was somehow stopped by Branthwaite. Doucoure seemed to get free but his run stalled. It was end to end as Douglas Luiz lofted a cross in, then he put Onana into a head-lock. Duran was next pushing Mykolenko in the head, which Branthwaite took exception to. There was a real scramble in front of Pickford, Mykolenko down brilliantly to deny Cash and somehow Everton cleared the ball away. Villa put together the best move with Cash controlling the ball and putting in a very dangerous cross that Duran touched on, just outside the far post. Doucoure got behind Villa's high line and scored well but he was deemed to have been a yard offside. The game was extended with 7 minutes of added time, the relentless battle continuing back and forth, Duran heading wide. McNeil released Harrison wide right with a tremendous crossfield pass but Beto could not get to his cross in. Watkins then just threw Tarkowski to the floor as Villa attacked. Everton tried toress again and it fell to Doucoure but his shot was well high and wide. An appropriate end to a very strange game of nasty niggles with hardly any proper football. Everton: Pickford; Coleman [Y:67'], Tarkowski [Y:70'], Branthwaite, Mykolenko; Onana, Garner; Harrison, Doucoure; Danjuma (63' McNeil), Calvert-Lewin (63' Beto). Subs not Used: Virginia, Patterson, Keane, Gomes, Godfrey, Chermiti, Dobbin. Aston Villa: Martinez; Konsa, Diego Carlos [Y:48'] (77' Cash), Lenglet, Alex Moreno; Kamara, Douglas Luiz; Bailey (64' Duran), McGinn (89' Zaniolo); Diaby (64' Tielemans [Y:]75'), Watkins [Y:31']. Subs not Used: Marschall, Wright, Dendoncker, Iroegbunam. Attendance: 39,284 Michael Kenrick top Match Preview 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. 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 2024Referee: David CooteVAR: Paul TierneyLast Time: Everton 0 - 2 Aston Villa Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Tarkowski, Branthwaite., Mykolenko, Onana, Garner, Harrison, Danjuma, Doucouré, Calvert-Lewin Lyndon Lloyd top * Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.