Sean Dyche made one change to his lineup from last weekend’s season opener, giving Dominic Calvert-Lewin his first start. New signing Youssef Chermiti has traveled to the Midlands with the squad but doesn’t make the lineup.
For the hosts, Unai Emery looked to shrug off the disappointment of the 5-1 beating at Newcastle last weekend with an attacking forward line of Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins and Moussa Diaby.
Anthony Taylor got us started and the first couple of minutes pretty much set the tone for how things would go for the rest of the first half at least. Former Blue Lucas Digne pushed forward and won a corner off James Garner. Villa took it short and were able to win another one which the Blues eventually cleared.
Everton would have expected that Villa’s big threat would have come from the right where Nathan Patterson and James Garner were defending, but Emery threw a curveball focusing attention on the left where Moussa Diaby instead tore Ashley Young to shreds, sucking Garner into the middle and that let all sorts of late Villa runners find all kinds of space.
John McGinn’s opener had a sense of inevitability about it as Leon Bailey made a slashing run down the right and put his ball into the six-yard box for the hosts’ captain to volley home. Garner lost his man for the only goal of the game in last week’s defeat against Fulham, and was mostly responsible for losing McGinn today.
The Blues had barely settled in in the search for an equalizer before Everton’s setpiece defending strategy for the day was exposed again. The short corner was swung into the box and headed goalwards, Pickford came out for it against an unmarked Ollie Watkins who got a touch on it first before the England #1 clattered into him. Unlike the assault from Andre Onana last weekend that went unpunished this time Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot with VAR confirming the correct decision. Pickford took his time trying to throw off Douglas Luiz and got booked for his troubles before the Brazilian beat him to the goalie’s left to make it 2-0, and effectively game over.
To Dyche’s frustration Everton continued to look utterly impotent with the ball, a diametric opposite to yesterday when they looked pretty threatening. However, the Blues day was only going to get much, much worse from here.
Calvert-Lewin had gone in for a 50/50 against Emiliano Martinez earlier and looked like he had fractured his right cheekbone in the clash. Eventually the swelling got so bad he looked like he’d gone through a couple of rounds against Mike Tyson in his prime, and Arnaut Danjuma came on for him.
Halftime came not a second too soon as the Blues capped off one of the worst halves of football we’ve seen them play in a few years, and surely they could only play better in the second half, right? Right?
Lewis Dobbin came on for Idrissa Gueye at the halftime break as the Blues switched to a 4-1-4-1 formation to try counter Villa’s width, but when the players are showing the level of disinterest and incompetency they did today, nothing can save them.
Evertonians have seen just about enough of Michael Keane, who with all his experience still looks like a deer in the headlights whenever he steps out onto the pitch. The Blues switched off while Villa took a quick throw from the Everton right, and Keane was unable to clear effectively, instead steering the ball to Leon Bailey who slotted home early in the second half to end the game as a contest.
Oh it does get worse, just hold on to your underoos. Alex Iwobi stretched to collect a pass down the touchline and came up hobbling, clutching his left hamstring. He’s not one to stay down for long, and if he looks hurt then you know he is hurt. The Nigeria international went straight down the tunnel as the injury woes continued to mount.
Another veteran, and former Aston Villa player, Ashley Young then decided to get in on the amateur hour, playing a poor long throw to an unaware Keane. Substitute Jhon Duran nipped in ahead of the hapless centrehalf and then tucked past Pickford to make it four.
Danjuma and Dobbin both showed signs of life late on, but the nine plus nine minutes of time added on in each half did not help the Blues as their embarrassment was complete with Villa making it nine games unbeaten against the Toffees, including five straight wins.
Everton Man of the Match: Arnaut Danjuma
Unlike last weekend when there were some positives to take in a defeat, today there was not a single thing to write home about. Maybe Danjuma and Dobbin, who both did what they had to do. Possibly Tarkowski and Onana who weren’t abjectly terrible either, but when you’re surrounded by utter mediocrity the bar is pretty low.
The only points Everton will be in contention for this season will be at home, and away against the bottom half sides. Will that be enough to stay out of relegation trouble?