Aston Villa will be looking to continue their escape from the Premier League relegation zone with a victory against Everton this weekend.
Villa have seen a huge improvement in their performances since Tim Sherwood took over from Paul Lambert and the team are playing with an intensity up front that hasn’t been seen at Villa Park for a few years now. They are still not out of danger however, they only have a two point advantage over Sunderland in 18th place, who also have a game in hand. They can help themselves with three points on Saturday but must do so against an Everton side who are in good form themselves.
Everton are flying after their 3-0 demolition of Manchester United last weekend and are currently on an unbeaten run of six games. The Toffees have recovered from the performances earlier in the season that saw them fall down the league table, and now find themselves back in the top ten. Providing other results go their way, Everton could leapfrog Stoke City into ninth place with three points and you can be sure Roberto Martinez will be focussing all his energy on making this happen.
Gabby Agbonlahor should be able to return to the Villa team this weekend after recovering from a hamstring injury. Chris Herd is out for the league season and it is unlikely he will be able to feature in the FA Cup final either. There is still no word as to when Alan Hutton, Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker and Libor Kozak will be fit to return.
Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar may feature in the Everton squad this weekend if they can pass late fitness tests. However, it looks like the season is over for Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson.
- Aston Villa have not beaten Everton in any of the last eight meetings.
- Villa have been victorious in just one of their last six home games.
- Everton have not lost since March 4th.
- Everton have won five of their last six league games. They drew the other.
Delph has been in good form for Villa in recent weeks and has rightly been receiving credit for his performances. He has made 24 appearances for Villa this season but has yet to score any goals in the league. According to Squawka.com, he has created 27 chances for his team mates but only two of these have resulted in his assists. His passing stats have been impressive this season with the midfielder completing 1106 passes, meaning he has an accuracy of 85%. Delph has won 59% of his duels and has been successful on 46 of the 58 occasions he has attempted to take on an opponent. He has been involved in an average of three defensive actions per game with 35 of these being interceptions. While Delph has not been able to contribute goals to Aston Villa this season, his performances in midfield have been good and he will have to maintain this against Everton.
Jagielka has been brilliant for Everton this season and is surely odds-on for their player of the season award. He has made 33 league appearances and has even managed to score three goals. The defender has won two thirds of all duels he has been involved in and has a 55% success rate when tackling. He has also managed to win 93 of the 146 headed duels he has fought for and has an 86% success rate when taking on opponents. Obviously, Jagielka has been involved in an average of 13 defensive actions per game with the vast majority of these being clearances. However, he has made four defensive errors this season with one of these resulting in a goal for Everton’s opponents. Jagielka will have to be on the top of his game on Saturday if Everton are to stop Christian Benteke from scoring.
Aston Villa’s performances have definitely improved in recent months but Everton are playing well. Unfortunately for Villa fans, I think Everton may have a little too much for them on Saturday and ultimately win the game 2-1.