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Everton at Aston Villa: Carabao Cup match preview | Toffees seek to maintain momentum

The win at Brentford has sparked the season into life for the Blues

Aston Villa v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Neal Simpson/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images

Everton will look to build on their impressive weekend win at Brentford when they head back to the Midlands to take on Aston Villa on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup.

The 3-1 victory at the Gtech Community Stadium was a huge shot in the arm after a difficult few weeks. The Toffees have threatened that kind of result this campaign, notably against Wolves and Fulham, but the key difference here is they finally converted their chances into goals.

With two home games against Luton and Bournemouth to come before the international break Everton have a real chance to put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three, giving everyone a chance to calm down and take some deep breaths.

Brentford FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

First through is a return to the venue of arguably Everton’s poorest performance of the season so far. Sean Dyche’s side were absolutely battered by Villa in the Premier League in August so have some ghosts to exorcize when they take on Unai Emery’s side once more.

The difference of course is this will be in the Carabao Cup so I’d expect the intensity to be different and both sides to make some changes.

I’m usually firmly in the ‘play your strongest team’ camp when it comes to cup matches given Everton’s long trophy drought. But given the importance of the Luton game I would not mind if a few key players are given a breather.

That said, another win here would generate some real momentum and fill the team with belief. It would also give us hope that this season may not be so grim after all.

The opposition

Chelsea FC v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

As we mentioned in the preview for the league game in August, Villa and Everton have gone in wildly different directions over the last 12 months.

After acting decisively to sack Steven Gerrard when they were perilously close to the bottom three, the Midlands club have thrived under Emery, securing a Europa Conference League place on the final day of the season.

Since hammering the Toffees 4-0, Villa secured their place in the Conference League group stages by beating Hibernian over two legs, though they slipped to a surprise defeat at Legia Warsaw in their opening group stage match.

In the league Emery’s side do not deal in draws, winning four and losing two of their opening six matches, including victory at Chelsea on Sunday.

With European fixtures on the cards the Carabao Cup is likely to be down Villa’s priority list this season so I’d expect Emery to make plenty of changes, though their squad now has impressive depth so it will still be a strong XI whatever they put out.

If they do progress on Wednesday it will make it 10 games unbeaten against Everton since they returned to the top flight in 2019, with Everton’s last win a 3-1 Premier League victory at Villa Park in March 2016.

Previous meeting

Aston Villa 4-0 Everton, 20 August 2023

Aston Villa v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

A miserable day for Evertonians as goals from John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Leon Bailey and Jhon Duran earned a deserved victory for the hosts.

Team news

Everton U21 v Norwich City U21: Premier League 2 Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Sean Dyche is likely to make some changes to his side with Luton in mind, though his small squad means options are limited.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin could start after scoring off the bench on Saturday. Jack Harrison could also make his debut after playing for the U21s on Friday. The likes of Ben Godfrey, Yousseff Chermiti, Lewis Dobbin and Michael Keane could also get minutes.

What they said

Everton manager Sean Dyche: “We know we have to change the story, I must reiterate that, but we do it by performances. “We know the Evertonians will support us and back us, but we have to keep doing what we did at Brentford, showing that intent and desire to win games.

“Not just the quality, that whole body language, energy and belief in what we do to go and win games like we did on Saturday. We have got to keep doing that.”

Final word

Difficult to call this one. Villa are the better side at the moment but I’m not sure how bothered they are about the Carabao Cup this season. If Everton can somehow snatch a result it would be hugely significant going into those two critical home games.