Everton will hope to maintain their fast start to life under Rafael Benitez when they make the journey to the West Midlands to take on Aston Villa on Saturday evening.
The Toffees marched to a 3-1 success against Burnley in their most recent encounter, while Dean Smith’s side fell victim to a Romelu Lukaku-inspired Chelsea in a 3-0 defeat.
Prior to the visit of Villa, Romelu Lukaku had failed to score in 14 previous matches at Stamford Bridge, but the Chelsea attacker made light work of Dean Smith’s side alongside his teammates to condemn Villa to a 3-0 defeat on the day.
Lukaku found the back of the net within 15 minutes before Mateo Kovacic took advantage of a loose backpass from Tyrone Mings to double his side’s advantage, and with seconds remaining at Stamford Bridge, Lukaku netted his second and Chelsea’s third during a romping success.
Smith’s tactical switch to a three-man central defence did not bear fruit in the capital, and a tally of four points from a possible 12 sees Villa occupy 12th spot in the rankings before a truly taxing run begins for the West Midlands club.
After welcoming an in-form Everton to Villa Park, Smith’s side will renew hostilities with Chelsea in the EFL Cup before facing Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Arsenal and West Ham United in league action leading up to Halloween.
The Villans do welcome Everton to the West Midlands having gone unbeaten in their last four league games at Villa Park, but they can only boast two clean sheets from their last 16 Premier League games before the visit of Benitez’s rampant attacking forces.
Producing yet another early contender for goal of the season, Everton new boy Andros Townsend scored the pick of the bunch in Monday’s 3-1 victory over Burnley, which started off on a sour note for Everton as Ben Mee headed home the opener.
However, former Burnley centre-back Michael Keane showed his old employers what they are missing with a header of his own before Townsend’s 30-yard screamer beat Nick Pope all ends up, and Demarai Gray capped off a six-minute flurry of Everton goals to hand Rafael Benitez another eye-catching victory.
The ex-Liverpool boss has endeared himself to the Everton faithful in the perfect way after previous hostility towards his appointment, and his side have now taken 10 points from their opening four games to keep pace with Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in the top four.
The Toffees have also scored at least two goals in each of their four league games so far this season – boasting 10 in total, a tally only bettered by Man United and Manchester City – but less-than-positive injury news regarding Dominic Calvert-Lewin will not help them on that front.
Villa and Everton played out a goalless draw in this fixture back in May, and the hosts are unbeaten in four against the Toffees since their return to the Premier League in 2019, but Benitez’s side certainly appear to be capable of ending that hoodoo here.
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Everton Premier League form:
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We say: Aston Villa 1-2 Everton
Despite their mixed opening to the season, Villa still carry plenty of goal threat and should have no trouble breaching Everton’s backline, but the visitors are simply flying under Benitez.
Both managers could be tempted into formation and personnel changes for Saturday’s game, and while Villa have been somewhat of a bogey team for Everton in the past couple of years, we expect the Toffees to break that duck with a narrow win.