Everton started as expected, with their hair on fire likely per the instructions from interim manager Duncan Ferguson. However Aston Villa are too good a side to get flustered and came prepared for it. Both sides dug in for a early midfield battle as the Blues’ 4-4-2 settled in against Steven Gerrard’s 4-3-3.
The Blues were scrappy, getting after the ball and the Villa players, not always in that order either. Villa meanwhile created some chances to score, with both Ollie Watkins and Emi Buendia looking lively.
The Toffees were looking like they were just trying to play out the half but with pretty much the last touch of the period, Villa got the go-ahead goal. A Lucas Digne corner was met by the shortest player on the pitch Buendia, and his twisting header towards the far post dipped over a despairing Pickford. The goalie’s fingertip parry looked to have carried it past Andros Townsend on the goalline, but that was not the worst either.
Immediately after the goal as the Villa players celebrated in front of the Gwlady Street end, a number of flying projectiles hit Digne and Matty Cash. Ugly and completely unnecessary, and at the time of writing this, stadium security and local police were still looking for the Evertonians responsible for this reprehensible behaviour.
The Blues started the second half on a better note, and the addition of Allan and Anthony Gordon certainly seemed to help. There were more chances early on, headers by both Richarlison and Mina could have been aimed better for sure.
Ferguson had to use his all substitutions early, with Allan and Anthony Gordon coming on for Andre Gomes and Andros Townsend, and then Abdoulaye Doucoure going off injured with 18-year-old Tyler Onyango coming on.
More half-chances followed for the Blues, with Gordon the chief architect of most of them as Villa looked to run out the clock, which they did successfully enough. Disappointing in the end as this now stretches Everton’s awful run to one win in fourteen now.
If the Blues can keep this workrate up though, they should be fine as far as relegation is concerned, but clearly this is a team in some sort of transition.
Ferguson named a lineup for a scrap here. He was not necessarily looking to out-football Villa on the day as much as out-work them.
Interesting that neither of the two new signings Vitaliy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson are even on the bench.
Zero shots in the first half, zero shots on goal. Insert <grimace> emoji here.
Craig Pawson is going to go home tonight and think about that yellow card he gave Yerry Mina for making a legitimate tackle, and realize he’s made a big mistake.
Everton have a new injury concern now with Doucoure going off limping. That said, we’ve wanted to get a look at Onyango and the teenager did not look out of place either.
Anthony Gordon surely has to be the first name on the team sheet every game going forward.