Aston Villa 2-0 Everton
Goals: Wesley (£6.0m), Anwar El Ghazi (£5.5m)
Assists: Jota (£5.9m), John McGinn (£5.6m)
Bonus Points: Wesley x3, Bjorn Engels x3 (£4.5m), Tyrone Mings x1 (£4.5m)
Everton’s impressive defensive start to the season finally came to an end against Aston Villa as they were defeated 2-0 on Friday night.
After riding their luck to some extent in the first two Gameweeks, they were finally undone by Dean Smith’s men at Villa Park.
However, the opening match of Gameweek 3 was a largely uninspiring affair with very few quality chances created by either side.
The best proof of that was the fact that just two saves were made on Friday night, one each for Jordan Pickford (£5.6m) and Tom Heaton (£4.5m).
Even though they scored two goals, Villa only dominated short spells of the match, which perhaps makes it all the more discouraging that Everton conceded two goals, although defensive midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin (£5.0m) was missing with a muscle injury.
The Toffees dominated possession for the first 20 minutes, the hosts scoring with virtually their first foray into opposition territory on the night.
Everton may face an even sterner examination of their defensive capabilities when they host Wolves in Gameweek 4 too.
That said, there were still decent performances from attacking players in Aston Villa’s ranks.
Centre-forward Wesley (£6.0m) took plenty of the praise post-match after excelling in his target man role.
The former Club Brugge man came in for serious criticism for his displays in the first two Gameweeks, but against Everton, he bullied centre-backs Michael Keane (£5.5m) and Yerry Mina (£5.6m) for much of the game.
Wesley was also at the heart of both goals scored on Friday night. The first one he put in the net himself after a perfectly weighted pass from Jota (£5.9m) connected with his well-timed run behind the Everton defence.
A few minutes after putting Villa 1-0 up, Wesley was in again, in what would have been an almost carbon copy of the opener, Mina this time getting a block on the Brazilian’s shot.
Wesley’s efforts also led to Villa’s second goal as Everton chased the game in stoppage time. He held up a long clearance offloading to John McGinn (£5.6m) who slotted in Anwar El Ghazi (£5.5m) to score.
“I said yesterday (Wesley is) only one (goal) behind Mo Salah, he’s now level with Salah. It was two games into a season and I said yesterday that there will be 14 centre-forwards who will go to Tottenham and not score. He’s a good player, I’ve been watching him for quite some time. He was one we wanted to get. I thought he was a handful all game.” – Dean Smith
McGinn now has two attacking returns in his first three Premier League matches, which will only further interest in him as a budget asset.
He got round the back of Everton’s right flank in the first half and held the ball up well, just as Wesley did. McGinn’s pass for El Ghazi’s late goal was also a perfectly-timed assist.
Meanwhile, there was good news for those who had plumped for Frederic Guilbert (£4.4m) for their Gameweek 1 squads.
The right-back had been absent from the matchday squads for Gameweeks 1 and 2, Smith opting to use the more experienced Ahmed El Mohamady (£4.5m) on both occasions.
However, the Villa manager decided it was time for Guilbert to get his first taste of Premier League action in Gameweek 3, explaining that he offered a different dynamic to last season’s first-choice at right-back.
“I’ve always said you always have to earn the right to get into the team. You know, Elmohamady’s done okay but Fred’s been knocking on the door, working hard in training. I just felt after his performances in pre-season he might give us a different dynamic.” – Dean Smith
It is hard to tell at this stage, even with those quotes, whether Guilbert is nailed-on to start regularly for Villa yet, but he certainly gave a good account of himself against Everton.
With the Toffees using their left-flank a lot early on, he defended very well and offered plenty going forward too. The right-back was a regular attacking outlet for Villa and his delivery looked decent too.
Guilbert also displayed limited amounts of goal threat, although it is early days for him at Villa. In the 36th minute, he spearheaded a counter-attack with a run through the middle, shooting just over the bar from the edge of the box.
“(Guilbert is) a really good player. We signed him in January last year and loaned him out. He’s been developing with us, he’s done really well in pre-season. He’s had to earn the shirt from Elmo, who has been playing the first couple of games. He’s rapid as well. There’s not many that will go past him. He’s a really good defender. He was hanging on a bit towards the end but I thought our defensive organisation was really good.” – Dean Smith
Jota also came in for his first Premier League start and offered decent creativity from his right-wing station.
However, whether he continues to start matches remains to be seen, given the man he replaced, El Ghazi, scored in stoppage time to finally give Villa the breathing space they had been after all game.
That was a well-timed goal for the Dutchman, who had been dropped by Smith for reportedly not being ruthless enough in the attacking third. His response to these pre-match comments will have pleased his manager:
“El Ghazi’s not really been at his best in the final third for us and I just felt Jota, who also had a really good pre-season, can create a little bit down that side.” – Dean Smith
The fact that Aston Villa kept a first clean sheet of the campaign was made all the more impressive by the fact that Tyrone Mings (£4.5m) struggled with a groin problem in the warm-up. He took a heavy blow to face from Heaton in the early stages too.
He overcame both of those incidents well, while Bjorn Engels (£4.5m) went on to take three bonus points for his defensive efforts despite being kicked in the face by Mings in the first half.
“Yeah I did (have a groin problem). I went to sprint for the first time and felt a pain in my groin so I had a painkilling injection and I feel alright now. I feel a million dollars.” – Tyrone Mings
However, it is worth saying that Villa’s clean sheet was certainly helped by continued problems in Everton’s attack.
It seems that Marco Silva does not believe Moise Kean (£6.9m) is the solution to the Toffees’ offensive problems yet, as he opted to bench him for the third match in a row.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.0m) was asked to lead the line once again but offered very little.
“(Kean will start games) when he shows me in training sessions he is ready to. He needs a better moment than the others. 19-years-old player, we have to give him enough time to perform in the way we want. Now we start with Dominic up-front with a solution from the bench and Moise is one of them.” – Marco Silva
Calvert-Lewin had just one clearcut opportunity in the match but could not deliver.
In the 31st minute, an incredible through-ball from Morgan Schneiderlin (£4.5m) found Seamus Coleman (£5.5m) round the back of the Villa defence. He dragged back for Calvert-Lewin, whose fierce effort was blocked by Engels.
It was another disappointing game for Sigurdsson, who continues to operate below the levels of last season.
In fact, Silva turned to the Icelandic international when he needed to make his first change of the evening, introducing new signing Alex Iwobi (£5.9m) in his place.
The former Arsenal man was admittedly unlucky not to score as he hit the post in the 82nd minute after a knock-down from centre-back Keane.
Richarlison (£8.0m) is another key Everton asset struggling this season and still doesn’t have a shot on target to his name in 2019/20.
The Brazilian was replaced by Theo Walcott (£6.4m) for the second match in a row, although the latter hardly covered himself in glory either.
The substitute had a golden chance to equalise in the 89th minute but still managed to miss it.
Calvert-Lewin was released down the left-wing and played a good cross into the box, leaving the goal gaping at Walcott’s mercy, only for the Everton to blaze over the bar.
“We created enough chances. We created more than our opponent. (What) happened is what happened in the first match against Crystal Palace, we didn’t score.” – Marco Silva
While owners of Lucas Digne (£6.0m) will be especially disappointed by this result, and a one-point score for Gameweek 3, there were still plenty of encouraging signs for the left-back.
Most of Everton’s attacks came down his flank in the first half and he nearly scored 10 minutes into the match. Sigurdsson’s corner was delivered straight onto his boot for Digne to fire a sweet volley at the Villa goal, blocked by a defender.
The Frenchman, who remains on corners and free-kicks, also had a chance to equalise late on.
He was positioned in the middle of the box to receive a cross from substitute Walcott but he put his effort over the bar.
Aston Villa XI: Heaton; Taylor, Mings, Engels, Guilbert; McGinn, D Luiz, Grealish; Trezeguet (El Mohamady 86′), Wesley, Jota (El Ghazi 77′).
Everton XI: Pickford; Digne, Mina, Keane, Coleman; A Gomes, Schneiderlin; Bernard (Kean 62′), Sigurdsson (Iwobi 61′), Richarlison (Walcott 78′); Calvert-Lewin.
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