The Soccer Desk

Match Preview: Aston Villa vs. Everton


Ah, the difference a week off makes.  After picking up their first loss to Manchester City three weeks ago, the Toffees took the one week international break to rejuvenate, getting right back on the horse with an impressive win over Hull City.  Villa did not have as favorable a result as their upcoming opponents last weekend, suffering a 2-0 loss at home against Spurs.  They’ll try and pick things back up much like the Blues did last week with a win at home, while Everton attempt to continue their winning ways.

Steven Pienaar was an immediate factor last week against the Tigers, making his Goodison comeback with such an impressive goal.  Roberto Martinez will certainly have a hard time when it comes to his depth chart, as he’ll have to decide whether to keep things just as they are, or start the South African in place of Leon Osman.  Yes, Pienaar is just coming back from injury, but he also is the sure bet to get the nod.  While Osman brings a strong veteran presence to the Toffees, Pienaar has that amazing chemistry on the left when it comes to playing alongside Leighton Baines.

All last season, the telepathic connection that these two seem to have with each other led to a lot of Everton goals, and to have that back now, especially when this team is playing so well and with such authority, cannot be understated.  It’s exciting to imagine the kind of service he can bring to players like Romelu Lukaku, who despite not scoring last week, will still be front and center this Saturday when Everton kick off against Villa.  It’s that time again (I was spot on with my lineup prediction last week); here is how Roberto Martinez lines up the Mighty Blues this Saturday:

Everton-Villa lineup

Sure, Ross Barkley had a mediocre match against Hull, but he’s 20 years old, so he definitely gets a pass.  Martinez could opt to start Osman center in his place and give the youngster a break, but it’s unlikely.  While Barkley hasn’t scored in a while, he’s faster than Osman and provides some great passes to his teammates that have helped create chances on more than one occasion.  The Everton boss certainly has put lots of faith in the Merseyside native, and benching him at this point would be counter productive.

Villa will definitely have a challenge on their hands come Saturday when the Toffees invade Villa Park.  During last year’s campaign, the Villains failed to pick up a win against Everton, losing at home 3-1 in week two, and then drawing 3-3 at Goodison Park.  Add on top of the fact that this Everton club is quite possibly a better side than they were last year, Aston Villa will have a hard time taking points away from this one.  Brad Guzan will have to be on alert for all 90 minutes.

Kick off is set for 10:00 a.m. ET this Saturday morning.  As always, this one can been seen on NBC Sports Premier League Extra Time.  TSD will have a full match recap following the final whistle.

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