This weekend’s Friday night game sees Everton visit Premier League newcomers Aston Villa in an eagerly anticipated game.
Villa surprised everyone in the transfer window by splashing out £144m on new signings, sparking comparisons with Fulham who spent a similar amount last year and yet were relegated back to the Championship after just one season.
The Midlands club’s circumstances are slightly different in that some of the signings were on loan during last season’s successful Championship campaign and so will not need time to settle in.
Thus far, Villa are pointless after an opening day defeat at Spurs and a home reversal against Bournemouth. After the second game, The Villains’ skipper Jack Grealish said he would be experiencing sleepless nights, but blamed mistakes for the loss.
“Once we cut out those mistakes, I am sure we will be fine,” he told the club’s media team.
Manager Dean Smith may ring the changes with Ahmed Elmohamady’s place in the defence under threat from summer signing Frederic Guilbert.
Jonathan Kodjia and James Chester are unlikely to recover from injuries to make the matchday squad.
Meanwhile, the visitors have made a solid start, picking up four points from a goalless trip to Crystal Palace on the opening day and a 1-0 home victory over Watford. A win on Friday night would send the Toffees to the top of the rankings, albeit briefly.
Manager Marco Silva was also busy in the transfer window, spending £58m on strengthening his squad. Having signed highly sought-after teen Moise Kean from Juventus, Silva swooped towards the end of the transfer window to capture Alex Iwobi from Arsenal to further strengthen his attacking options and hopefully improve on the 54 goals scored last season.
The good news is that they have yet to concede a goal so far; the only Premiership side to achieve this. And Yerry Mina has been in outstanding form at the heart of the defence. Away from home, Everton have conceded just five league goals since February 6th. If the Blue’s shut out Villa, it will be the first time since 1912/13 that they have kept three clean sheets in the opening games of a top-flight season.
The bookies favour Everton to come away with the points, generally offering 5/4. Meanwhile, Villa are sitting at around 5/2. The draw is fairly widely on offer at between 9/4 and 11/5.