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Everton at Aston Villa: Match Preview

The Toffees travel to league-bottom Aston Villa.

Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Roberto Martinez and Everton, coming off a big win in the FA Cup against Bournemouth, will face an Aston Villa side that seems destined for relegation.

In reality, Everton's remaining league matches probably will not wind up meaning much, as the Toffees are currently eight points and six places out of sixth place, and even farther from fourth place and a Champions League spot.

But, with an FA Cup run perhaps still in the cards, the loss of confidence that would likely accompany a loss to the Premier League's worst team could have last repercussions when the Toffees take on Chelsea in the quarter-finals next in a few weeks.

Match Information

Opponent: Aston Villa

Date and Time: Tuesday, March 1, 7:45 BST (2:45 EST)

Location: Villa Park

The Opposition

It's hard to see a way that Aston Villa does not get relegated at the end of this season.

The Villans are last in the Premier League, have scored only 21 goals in 27 games while conceding 48, and haven't yet shown any signs of turning things around.

The sale of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph, arguably Villa's two best players last season, combined with the minimal impact of their newly bought players (Jordan Ayew, Jordan Amavi, Rudy Gestede, Scott Sinclair), gave Remi Garde too much work to do after he took the team over in November.

At the back, the VIllans have had their own issues with a long-tenured American goalkeeper, as Brad Guzan has struggled mightily at times this season. 31-year-old Mark Bunn, who had only 29 Premier League appearances before this season, has supplanted Guzan in goal in all but one of the club's matches in 2016.

Up front, Jordan Ayew, Villa's leading scorer with five goals, hasn't scored since Boxing Day and hasn't appeared in a match since February 2.

Most recent lineup (2-1 loss at Stoke, February 27): Mark Bunn; Jores Okore, Joleon Lescott, Alan Hutton, Aly Cissokho; Idrissa Gueye, Ashley Westwood, Jordan Veretout; Leandro Bacuna, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Carlos Gil.

Team News

Roberto Martinez told the media Monday morning that Muhamed Besic is close to a first-team return, but will not be available to play Tuesday. After missing out on last week's cup match due to illness, Arouna Kone is ready to return to the squad.

Tony Hibbert and Tyias Browning remain the team's long-term injury concerns.

Martinez has also confirmed that Joel Robles will continue to start in goal.

The Final Word

All of this information is essentially a roundabout way of saying that there is no excuse for Everton, in good form right now, not to take all three points at Villa Park. The Toffees were dominant in a 4-0 victory in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park earlier this season, and Villa have not significantly improved since that performance.

A good start will serve to keep Aston Villa's confidence low and ratchet up the tension at Villa Park in front of supporters who are well aware that their side's time in the Premier League may be coming to an end.

On the flip side, it is crucial for the Toffees to avoid conceding an early goal and give any confidence or momentum to Remi Garde's side. If Everton can do that, Martinez's side should be in good shape for this match.

Expected Lineup

Joel Robles; Bryan Oviedo, Phil Jagielka (c), Ramiro Funes Mori, Seamus Coleman; Tom Cleverley, James McCarthy, Gareth Barry, Ross Barkley, Aaron Lennon; Romelu Lukaku.