Finally, for once my optimism was matched by a full-blooded performance from Villa that earned Dean Smith’s men a full three points after overcoming a Crystal Palace side which are now without a win in their previous five games.
As for Villa, our next opponent, in what Dean Smith described as a “semi-final first leg” is Everton, who have only managed one win themselves since the Premier League’s return.
Despite the unfortunate news that Korney Hause had to pull out of the starting XI against Palace due to a calf strain, it meant that Villa actually played a right-back in their correct position – As Elmohamady came into the line-up, whilst Konsa slotted in at centre-back.
Villa looked much better for this, appearing far more balanced with a right-footed defender in Konsa and a left-footed defender in Mings partnering up at the heart of the defense.
Playing Elmohamady also added natural width down the right flank, which Konsa couldn’t provide when playing in that very position.
Trezeguet was the surprise standout in the game, scoring a brace, with goals coming in the form of a volley from a Conor Hourihane free-kick and a great one on one effort.
The Egyptian looked sharp and will look to continue this impressive form against Everton.
Easy decisions for Smith
It’s rather simple for Dean, keep things the same and ensure that your players put in a performance in the same vein as Palace and I’m confident that Villa can get a full three points against Everton.
As stated before, it’s crucial that Elmohamady starts at right-back with Konsa at centre-back.
Given that Hause remains sidelined through injury, I’m confident Smith will keep things the same.
Neil Taylor is also sidelined through injury, Villa also found out we’re not going to see Bjorn Engels as the Belgian defender is out for the rest of the season with an achilles injury.
After such a good performance which was rewarded with three points, Smith has to select the same starting XI against Everton.
Since returning to action, Villa fans have been in awe of Douglas Luiz. The midfielder has certainly been Villa’s best player consistently.
He will have quite the task, keeping Gylfi Sigurðsson and company quiet for the duration of the game.
Luiz breaks up the play so well and acts as the springboard for Villa on the counter-attack, an attribute, which shouldn’t be overlooked when playing away from home.
An ounce of optimism
If Villa are to stay in the Premier League, it would require at least six points and given Everton’s poor form since the restart, this is an absolute must-win for Villa.
They have proved they can beat the Toffees earlier on in the season, now it’s time to repeat that performance from under a floodlight Villa Park and ensure Villa’s status as a Premier League club remains intact.
A win would leave us only one point from safety, which is why it’s so imperative we win and remain within touching distance of survival.
We didn’t think it was possible to win ten games in a row and get promoted via the play-offs last season… who knows what this Villa side are capable of pulling off.
I’m going to say Villa will win 2-1, with goals coming from Jack Grealish and Ally Samatta for Villa, and Richarlason for Everton, which can be backed at 156.00* using the FansBet Bet Builder feature.
Keep the faith, the great escape is on…
About the Author
Dan Morgan is an Aston Villa season ticket holder and follows the team home and away.
An aspiring sports journalist and football writer, he hosts Heart of the Holte’s podcast ‘The Villa Filler’ as well as writing and editing for Heart of the Holte.
You can follow Dan on Twitter at @danmorgi34
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