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Everton v Aston Villa - Fan Q&A

We speak with our friend Alex Carson of @7500toHolte about this weekend's game at Goodison park.

Alex Livesey

RBM- Aston Villa Appear to be starting to set some solid foundations again. After a transition year or two and avoiding relegation the Villa look to be on their way back. What do you think the reason is for such a turn around?

AC- Early on, they were very, very good defensively but more importantly, started to get the kind of results required of teams finishing in that 8th - 10th position. Winning at Stoke, beating Hull at home — these are the things that separate those comfortable teams from the relegation fodder. So in a certain way, just getting those couple of results coupled with the great win at Liverpool. In reality though, they should (at least when fully healthy) be getting back to having a solid side. Guzan, Vlaar, Delph, and Benteke make a backbone better than most of the division and the rest of the lot isn't necessarily all that horrible. Tactics haven't been great in the past but for the first time in Lambert's time here, he's actually got a full, capable squad. Tactically, he can do what he wants now — that's a large part of it. But there's also a bit of luck — Villa have created 14 fewer chances than the 19th-best team in the league, Swansea. They've been very stout defensively and for the most part, have forced teams to beat them from outside of the box. Guys like Yaya Touré have that ability and you've just gotta tip your cap. The hope is that most teams can't.

RBM- A lot has been said about Roy Keane, your assistant coach, in the last week or two. Mainly due many people reacting to reading his new autobiography. He said in his book that he regretted joining Celtic over Everton during his career. What impact has Keane had on your squad?

AC- Above anything else, Keane's brought a certain level of confidence to Villa that's been very evident from the get-go. Part of the reason for the quick start in many ways I think has been that confidence. He's helped shore up the defence — at least early on — and it's turned out to be quite fun from a supporters' point of view. Be it tracking his beard, the Mourinho mini-spat, or just simply letting the referee have it, it's nice to see something out of Villa that's a little more fun than usual.

RBM- Aston Villa vs Everton is one of the oldest match ups in English football, this will be represented with our club 'going back in time' to the old school Everton days. Match programmes, Pre-game entertainment and evenour Toffee lady have received a old day make over! But the two sides have always given the other a good game and I don't expect anything different this weekend. My heart says a 3-2 Everton win. What is your match prediction?

AC- Considering Villa haven't scored since that 1-0 win over Liverpool five weeks ago, it's hard to say we're going to get into a track meet. However, the track record of these matches would seem to indicate otherwise. It should be a really interesting tactical battle — I'll presume that Lambert sets Villa up to counter like he typically does against the top sides and it'll be up to you guys to force the action. Ultimately, I think you'll probably get it done so I'll go 2-1 to Everton — but then again, at 11/2, I'd still consider putting a fiver on Villa. It's the type of match that there's absolutely a possibility to take something from but we'll just have to see.

RBM- Andreas Weimann is a player that I like a lot. His work rate is brilliant and he has a natural finishing touch. He is someone that I would enjoy watching if he was in an Everton shirt. But who out of Everton's current squad would you have playing at Villa and why?

AC- It'd maybe be expected to say Romelu Lukaku or one of the other young guys or Tim Howard (because America) but for me, it'd definitely be Leighton Baines. In recent memory, Villa have consistently had poor play from the fullbacks and it's been even worse on the left side than on the right. I've always rated Baines very highly and as one of the division's best fullbacks and the fact that he's already contributed to seven goals for you guys further reinforces that — especially considering the fact that Villa have just four goals this year. I think Benteke would do wonders having delivery from Baines and it'd give us someone a little better than Aly Cissokho who, compared to what we've had in the past at left back, is a demigod.

RBM- Come the end of the season Everton will be expected by our own fans to replicate if not beat last season's finish, but with our worryingly slow start that is looking bleak. What will Aston Villa be aiming for come the end of the season and where will your fans be expecting to finish?

AC- I kind of talked a little bit about the quiet confidence with Keane and Lambert earlier but I've long suspected that the team's goal for this year is more than just survival — I think they're targeting top-half. We'll see a little bit more whether or not that will happen once we get past this weekend — QPR kicks off a stretch of 13 matches that really only see Villa have to go up against Spurs, United, and Southampton — but I think they're well within their bounds to do so.

As for a supporters' point of view? For many, survival. Personally I've been targeting the top-half for a while but I certainly know that isn't the case. If you're of the view that Villa are going to be sold sometime soon, you're probably just gunning for survival. I don't think that's what's going to happen though so to me, the club needs to kick on this year, play a little more attractively, and secure that top-half finish to get on that road back up. As we saw with Shahid Khan's purchase of Fulham last year, even a club that seems pretty safe can go down — Villa have to get back towards the ballpark of Everton and Spurs if they're going to have someone come in, buy the team, and spend some money. A top-half finish would be great for that.

RBM- Finally, enjoy the game on Saturday and hopefully Weimann doesn't play as well as i've seen him play before now! Haha. If Aston Villa were to get a result I'd say it would be someone like Weimann or Agbonlahor would get the man of the match. But, if Everton were to win it who would you say our man of the match would be? I'll be having a pound on your prediction so no pressure!

AC- - I could've mentioned this earlier but I think one of the funniest things about supporting Villa is how everyone else seems to rate Weimann when a majority of Villa fans don't. Personally, I rate him (though I wish he'd play off Benteke in a formation with two strikers) because he can finish and if he's on his game, he's really good, but it seems more often than not nowadays, he's not that involved in the match. Then again, if he pops up with a goal, that's all he needs to do.

Back to the actual question at hand though, I've just got this horror image in my head of Gareth Barry being the guy that changes the game for Everton. It's a thing that seems to happen all too often with us — if Steve Sidwell scores against Villa again, I will kill somebody — but especially considering some people thought he'd come back to us in the summer (was never happening but whatever), I think he'll pop up with a goal somewhere that changes things.


Many thanks again to Alex Carson for his superb, detailed responses to our questions this week.