More of the same
For three-quarters of this match, things were the same as they have been since the restart for Everton. The midfield was largely terrible, the Blues were unable to get any real chances on goal and they found themselves losing to inferior competition. Yet again, nothing new has been learned and re-litigating these issues would be an act of self-punishment at this point in the season.
Everyone from the supporters, the Board to coaching staff can see what the issues are with this squad. Unfortunately there are two more matches still to be played that are mostly meaningless for Everton. The most anyone can hope for this season is that it comes to a swift conclusion. This season has largely been unpleasant to watch and at least the hope of improvement next season is something to hang on to.
Jarrad Branthwaite steps up
There was some small hope heading into the match in the form of a now fit Mason Holgate. Unfortunately for Holgate and those watching this match, that hope was short lived. Having missed the previous two matches with a shin injury, Holgate again was subbed off early when he appeared to re-aggravate his injury.
In his place, Jarrad Branthwaite made his second appearance in as many games for the club. The 18-year-old had a big task in front of him, helping to anchor a struggling back four trying to hold off a desperate Aston Villa attack. Despite his young age, Branthwaite acquitted himself nicely and was far from a liability on the back line. After the arrival of Tom Davies in the first team, it seemed as though Everton were struggling to get U-23 players in the first squad consistently. Anthony Gordon has broken through and found some regular minutes and Branthwaite’s solid performance will certainly make Carlo Ancelotti consider giving him more minutes as the season concludes. And with the injuries to Holgate and Yerry Mina, there may not be much of a choice in the matter.
Theo Walcott saves Everton from total embarrassment
I think many who watch this Everton side week in and week out are resigned to the fact that this team as it currently stands is terrible. The glimmer of hope that existed in the first three matches of the restart has vanished and in its place lie disappointment and pain. The matches against Tottenham and Wolves were bad, but those teams are simply better than Everton. But foolishly, I had hope that Everton could grab three points from one of the worst away sides in the Premier League.
Instead Everton played 75 minutes of horrible football. The same football that we have been forced to watch throughout the month of July. But those final 25 minutes, down a goal to Aston Villa, were occasionally entertaining and even exciting at times. The man who saved Everton from complete humiliation was none other than Theo Walcott. The diminutive winger was offering much more on the right wing than Alex Iwobi had all match and it was fitting that he would be the man to bring the match level at one. Even Andre Gomes, who has been largely catatonic since his return from injury looked revitalized in the waning minutes of the match.
Wins don’t really matter much at this point in the season, but I wouldn’t mind seeing most of the line up that finished this match, get the start in the next game. Everton can’t be relegated and morale can’t really fall any lower. Why not try and give people an entertaining match at the minimum.