xG Tells a Different Story
Going of the most generous interpretation of xG for the match yesterday, Aston Villa posted 1.3 compared to 0.7 for Everton (the Digne own goal is not factored in). Some other sources had it closer still. This suggests that the 3-goal margin of victory was flattering for Villa and not indicative of a wholesale failure in Everton’s game plan or performance.
Aston Villa (0.96) 3-0 (0.96) Everton— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) September 18, 2021
The Fullback Battle
Villa’s wingbacks, Matty Cash and Matt Target had 84 of their combined 94 touches in the middle or final third of the pitch, compared to only 65 from 102 for Ben Godfrey and Lucas Digne. Digne did rack up over 200 yards in progressive carries (towards the opposing goal) however, showing that he did contribute in an offensive sense.
Everton scored 59 league goals last season. The club’s early season injury crisis (plus one suspension) deprived the manager yesterday of the services of 4 players who contributed 35 of those strikes. Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend have added valuable goals already (and will continue to do so), but cannot be depended upon to do so every game, in the absence of so much firepower.
Futility Against the Villans
Saturday’s reverse at Villa Park took Everton’s recent underwhelming record to 5 games without a victory, since the midlands outfit returned to the Premier League in 2019 (2 draw, 3 defeats), taking in three managerial regimes at Goodison Park (Silva, Ancelotti, Benitez). On a personal note, this was Rafa’s first loss in 10 matches against Villa.
A Fall From The Summit
Everton paid the price for poor finishing. After hitting the target with 25 shots across the opening 4 league matches of the season (amongst the highest in the league), the Blues could only trouble the opposing goalkeeper Emi Martinez once yesterday afternoon. In a game of fine margins, they paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal.