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    Everton v Aston Villa - Match Preview

    by Conall Green

    Remi Garde’s Aston Villa travel to Merseyside on Saturday to face Everton at Goodison Park.

    Garde will be hoping his side will be able to add to the point picked up in a resolute defensive display in a goalless draw at home to league leaders Manchester City last time out.

    Roberto Martinez’s Everton also played out a draw in their last fixture, Belgian Romelu Lukaku earning them a point away at one of this season’s surprise packages, West Ham United.

    Garde, who would have had a chance to work with a lot of first team players over the international break, suffered a blow when Jordan Amavi was ruled out for the season after he suffered damage to his cruciate ligaments while playing for France under 21s. Kieran Richardson, Joleon Lescott or Ciaran Clark can all fill in at left back in his absence.

    Gabby Agbonlahor is still struggling with a niggling calf injury initially picked up in September against Birmingham City, and may not be fit to feature. Jores Okore will miss out with a knee problem, and Ashley Westwood and Rudy Gestede are carrying knocks but should be able to play some part if required.

    Martinez will be without Bryan Oviedo with a hamstring problem, Phil Jagielka and Tony Hibbert will miss out with knee injuries, while Steven Pienaar is doubtful due to a lack of match fitness.

    The influential Leighton Baines could return at left back for the hosts, having played in a behind closed doors game while his teammates were away representing their countries. His deputy at left back, Brendan Galloway could be absent with a muscle problem.

    Garde has solidified the Villa backline, but the big problem is a lack of goals, so he will be hoping the upturn in form of summer signing Jordan Ayew continues. The striker has two goals in his last three Premier League games, and also found the net in Ghana’s 2-0 victory over the Comoros, taking the ball down in the penalty area before firing a composed effort into the corner.

    Jordan Ayew is starting to show why Villa paid upwards of £8 million for his services.

    Everton have no such problems, with Lukaku scoring twice in his last two league games to take his total to seven in the Premier League this season. Fellow forward Arouna Kone notched a hat trick in Everton’s last home game, Sunderland being dispatched 6-2 on Merseyside.

    With the creative talents of Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu likely to be in the starting XI, and the pace of Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon also available, it could prove to be a long afternoon for the Villa back four.

    Bookmakers have the home side, who sit ninth in the league, installed as odds on favourites at 4/7. Rock bottom Villa are a long shot at odds of 11/2, while if you fancy the sides to share the spoils, a draw is priced at 3/1.

    I expect it to be a closer game than many will predict, with new boss Garde looking to build from the back in an attempt to push his side up the league table. Everton have had a mixed start to the season so far, especially at home, where they haven’t won consecutive games since April, but should have enough firepower to claim all three points.

    Prediction: Everton 2-1 Aston Villa. Back Lukaku to score at anytime (10/11).
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    Item Reviewed: Everton v Aston Villa - Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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