After a difficult start to the new Premier League season, Everton will have to contend with an Aston Villa at Villa Park who also were disappointed bt the way their campaign began. While the Toffees lost a match that they very likely should’ve drawn against Chelsea at home, Villa lost to newly promoted Bournemouth rather convincingly; both teams are desperate for three points and their first win of the season, but whether it happens, and for whom, is another matter altogether.
While the Blues have gotten in many new names over the last week, they are still waiting for another centre-forward in place of the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Goals will have to be manufactured in the meantime, and this lot will have to do so against a Villa side that is already feeling great pressure to find positive play and results.
RBM: First off, what is the mood around Villa Park and amongst supporters right now after the disappointing start to Aston Villa’s season at newly promoted Bournemouth last week?
Frustrated. Most supporters were confident going into the match and were let down by the team. The result was annoying but losses due to set pieces happen. More worrying was the performance overall and Gerrard’s comments publicly throwing former captain Tyrone Mings under the bus after the match; it didn’t help the atmosphere.
I (along with many many supporters) cannot understand why the team was set up to play wide and cross dozens of times against a very tall and defensive team like Bournemouth. Danny Ings is a good striker…but he isn’t winning high headers as a solo striker in a crowd of three big defenders. But Villa did it over and over and over and over while completely ignoring the middle of the field and basically playing on top of each other down the wings and getting in each other’s way. Oh and gave away the ball a ton.
Visual example of the failed tactic.
So yes. Frustrated. It hasn’t turned negative yet but it could quickly. If Everton find a quick goal and Villa start slow, things could get ugly. So please don’t do that?
RBM: Steven Gerrard was noticeably angered and frustrated at how his talent-laden side played against the Cherries; what was he expecting to see from his club, and what should observers expect to see if and when Villa can successfully put it all together on the pitch?
He and all the Villa faithful. Gerrard has to find his best XI and his best tactic. He hasn’t done either despite early transfers and full preseason. The Bournemouth game sure wasn’t it!!
If Villa are going to play up their talent – Kamara shields the two central defenders as the wingbacks supply the width. Phillippe Coutinho and/or Emi Buendia cut in and offer creativity. Jacob Ramsey makes dangerous runs with the ball. Douglas Luiz has the wide ranging passing ability to create attacks. McGinn keeps the midfield running and offers some shots from distance. Ings/Watkins supply goals. Bailey is a quick chaos agent who can bring a bit of everything and had an excellent preseason.
I’m fully aware not all the players can play at the same time. But the ingredients for a very good team are at Gerrard’s disposal…he needs to get the recipe correct.
RBM: After the Dean Smith era with Aston Villa finally ended, does it feel like Gerrard will have as much support and time from fans and the team without taking this side to newer and better heights as a club?
If Villa play like they did against Bournemouth there will be calls for Gerrard’s job before the transfer window is closed. That is how frustrating it was. Hard fought losses against two set pieces can happen to any team. But Villa fans will not stand long for a manager that has been supported, had a full preseason, has talent around the squad but offers nothing on the field.
RBM: What business has been done so far this summer, and what further business might we see from Aston Villa before the summer window slams shut?
I think Villa are done with incoming. There are a handful of players that are seeking an exit including, reportedly, Marvelous Nakamba, Bertrand Traore, Keinan Davis, and Frederic Guilbert. Personally I would keep Nakamba but there is a Villa kid in the wings at the DM spot that Gerrard may want to get his minutes. Some of the kids will likely go on loan depending on if they are needed for cover and if/when Villa are knocked out of the Cup after we inevitably draw someone like Man City away.
Does Everton want El Ghazi back again?
Gerrard still wants another person in the midfield and if the right fit comes along the owners have shown they are willing to make the move.
RBM: With so many interesting names on this Villa roster, I would be remiss if I did not ask which players the supporters and journalists expect to have a big season for this club?
Boubacar Kamara. Everyone who has watched Villa for the last few years has seen that the squad needed a midfielder to offer protection to the center-backs. Douglas Luiz is a really talented player, but has been played out of position in that role.
If Villa are going to have a successful season, then Kamara needs to allow his midfield partners and the wing-backs the freedom and trust to go forward. He is going to need a little time to adjust to the league and can’t be giving away stupid fouls (that is what lead to Bournemouth’s second goal)
RBM: How do you expect Villa to set up on Saturday, and which of those names - aforementioned or not - do you think could cause Everton the most problems?
With all the fans crying out for changes… I don’t think there will be many.
Cash, Konsa, Diego Carlos, Digne
Bailey, Watkins*, Coutinho
That isn’t what I would go with but I’m not a football manager paid large sums of money to make decisions.
RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?
I want to be hopeful but I’m not. 0-0 draw and it will be about as much fun as watching black paint dry with the lights off.
Thanks for inviting me to rant about the Villa!
Our thanks to Phil for his time.