Things got off to a bad start pre-game when it was confirmed that Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman and Richarlison were all out injured - the latter with a knee injury sustained in a heavy challenge by Burnley’s James Tarkowski on Monday.
Salomon Rondon was handed his first start in place of Richarlison and had two opportunities in the opening stages. At the other end Asmir Begovic, in for the injured Pickford, made a superb one-handed stop to deny Tyrone Mings.
That set the tone for an entertaining encounter, with Everton looking to soak up the Villa pressure before hitting on the break.
One such counter saw Demarai Gray go on a mazy run down the left, with his low cross just ahead of the stretching Rondon.
Referees are not our friends at the moment, with Craig Pawson inexplicably waving play on despite Ezri Konsa blatantly pulling back Gray’s shirt after he span away from the Villa defender. Gray then had a wonderful opportunity when he curled just wide from inside the area.
Everton looked reasonably comfortable at the back but were undone in a couple of minutes of madness. First Matty Cash got on the wrong side of Digne before bursting into the area and smashing the ball home with his left foot. Digne’s nightmare continued when he nodded a Villa corner into his own net seconds later.
Villa grabbed a third goal in nine minutes when substitute Leon Bailey broke clear down the left and smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
This was a decent game considering neither side looked at their best. Villa are still adjusting to the post-Grealish era while Everton were hampered by injuries.
It was all fairly even until Everton fell asleep for the opening goal, which sparked a complete and utter collapse.
It was always nailed on that Leon Bailey would score having frequently being linked with Everton over recent years. His introduction tipped the match in Villa’s favour.
Everton, in contrast, had to take a knackered-looking Salomon Rondon off after an hour and leave Alex Iwobi up front.
That summed up the different between the sides. Everton have a decent first XI but no depth, so the injuries they have suffered really killed them here. Rafael Benitez had little or no options to try and turn things around, with James Rodriguez once again left out of the squad entirely.
The positives? Rondon was very good on his full debut, getting into open spaces, holding up the ball well and making himself available and big in the air for crosses. However, his lack of match sharpness was apparent with those two early missed opportunities and he looked absolutely shattered when he was withdrawn.
Ten points from five games also still represents a decent start. But this was a sobering evening that brutally exposed the team’s limitations and brought the supporters back down to earth with an uncomfortable bump.
One to forget.