PREVIEW | ASTON VILLA VS EVERTON
Everton’s second match of the season is an away trip to face Aston Villa.
Their campaign began last week with a 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea, the first time the Toffees have lost an opening day fixture since 2011.
But it was an even worse start to the season made by Steven Gerrard’s side, who were easily brushed aside by newly-promoted Bournemouth in a 2-0 win for the Cherries.
It’s been a very exciting past few days for Evertonians with Conor Coady and Amadou Onana arriving on Merseyside from Wolves and Lille respectively.
It looks likely Coady, who has signed on a season-long loan, will go straight into the starting line-up after Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey both suffered long-term injuries against Chelsea.
In contrast, it’s unclear whether Everton supporters will get their first look at the 20-year-old Onana, who joins from Lille for an undisclosed fee, after Alex Iwobi and Abdoulaye Doucoure both impressed in the centre of the park on the opening day.
Meanwhile, it is also expected Salomon Rondon will start as a striker after serving his suspension carried over from the end of last season. The lack of a focal point up top hindered the Blues offensively against Thomas Tuchel’s side as they struggled to create chances.
Lampard vs Gerrard
Villa’s appointment of Steven Gerrard as their manager has given Everton an extra incentive for their encounters with the West Midlands side.
Fans will be loath to cast their minds back to the last time they faced the Villains, a 1-0 defeat back in January in which the Liverpool cult hero swaggered off the Goodison turf with a smirk on his face as he gazed upon a hostile Park End.
Frank Lampard since becoming Everton manager has only added an extra dimension as the rivalry between the two men has now moved from on the field to the dugouts.
One to watch – Nathan Patterson
Someone who really grew into the opening day fixture against Chelsea was right wing-back Nathan Patterson.
The Scot was making his first league start for the Toffees and struggled to get involved in the first half.
But his confidence grew throughout the match and by the end, he was practically leading the charge towards the Chelsea defence and looked the most likely to make something happen.
Time will tell whether he is simply filling in for Seamus Coleman, who is recovering from an injury picked up at the end of last season, or if Lampard does genuinely see him as a starter in the side now.
Last week’s performance certainly suggests he is ready to be a first-team regular and having an aerial threat in Rondon to pick out with his dangerous crossing will be a plus point if he does indeed start at Villa Park.
One to watch – Danny Ings
One man who always seems to score against Everton is Danny Ings.
The 30-year-old is just starting his second season with the West Midlands outfit after signing from Southampton last summer for £25m and weighed in with seven goals.
He has scored five times in previous encounters against the Toffees and will be aiming to add to this tally and open his account for the new campaign in the day’s early kick-off.
The Toffees are still undoubtedly a work in progress but there were certainly encouraging signs in last week’s narrow defeat against Chelsea.
The addition of Coady further strengthens an already improved defence as well as providing stronger communication and leadership on the field, something previous Everton sides have been severely lacking in to their detriment.
While they still look slightly toothless in attack, their opposition were considerably worse last weekend and there is certainly a good opportunity for the Blues to get their first points of the season on board in Birmingham.