"One game a season does not make." is what both managers will be telling their teams before Saturday's game. David Moyes watched his Everton side put in a commanding performance in beating Manchester United. Meanwhile their hosts Aston Villa controlled possession but failed to create any real chances in losing away to West Ham.
While Everton fans will be flying high and dreaming visions of good starts, Moyes has been more pragmatic in his view of things, noting that he would wait to play the first ten games of the season before making any proclamations. Villa Park has been a house of horrors for the Toffees in the Premiership era, along with Highbury/Emirates and Old Trafford, and they will need another solid, mistake-free shift to bag the points.
Stay tuned after the jump for more.
So what does Moyes do this weekend? Maintain the same squad as last week, or withdraw Marouane Fellaini to the midfield and throw in either of the new transfers Steven Naismith or Kevin Mirallas. It is very likely history will be preying on Moyes' mind with Everton having mustered only two wins away to Villa in the last 25 years. In fact, Everton haven't had a win against the Villans in their last twelve games.
Team News -
Sylvain Distin fell heavily on his back while striker Nikica Jelavic hobbled off last weekend with a groin strain, but both should be fit to play. Mirallas has had some intensive training sessions this week but will not be expected to start.
Paul Lambert will have striker Nathan Delfouneso fit again, and defender Chris Herd will be back in the squad too. Gabriel Agbonlahor, Richard Dunne and Marc Albrighton are all still out, as is Irish under-19 international winger Samir Carruthers.
Keys To The Game -
It is still early in the season and Moyes has to be feeling good after the Monday night game. He'll keep the same starting line up, attempt to hold the ball up and take the crowd out of the game early. Expect Mirallas at the hour-mark and Naismith on for Jelavic should his groin give out again. Baines will push up high on the left and Distin will be charged with keeping Marcus Bent under check for deep balls. Villa did not look good against the high ball and they will face a barrage of crosses again.
Villa ended last year miserably under Alex McLeish with one win in their last thirteen home games. Expect the home crowd to give new gaffer Lambert a hearty welcome as they try to erase some miserable memories from last year. Karim El Ahmadi and Fabian Delph will be charged with cutting off Everton's offense and distributing the ball forward for Charles N'Zogbia and Brett Holman on the wings and Stephen Ireland in the middle. Lambert will be looking for his side to create more chances after watching his team gain 66% of the possession and only get two shots on goal last game.
Match Facts -
Everton drew with Villa in both games last season, and drew both games against Paul Lambert's Norwich too.
The Toffees last win at Villa Park was seven years ago.
Of their last nine away games, Everton have drawn seven of them.
Darron Gibson has not lost in his last twenty-eight Premier League games.
Villa have not won a game in their last eleven Premiership games.
They have also scored only two goals in their last seven League matches.