Having spent heavily in the summer much is expected of Everton this season and a solid start in their opening two games means there is plenty of reason for optimism ahead of their trip to Aston Villa on Friday – a team they have loved facing down the years.
The Blues finally got off to winning ways at home to Watford last Saturday courtesy of a 10th-minute goal from Barnard having drawn 0-0 away at Crystal Palace in their first match of the 2018/19 season.
And although they may have lacked a killer touch up-front thus far, squandering a number of good chances against Palace in the first half, two clean sheets from two games means that Marco Silva’s side now have 10 shutouts from their last 13 Premier League matches.
Despite limping off with a thigh injury against the hornets at Goodison last week Lucas Digne is expected to start for the Blues while Morgan Schneiderlin returns following a one-match-ban sustained after a red card at Selhurst Park.
Everton will be aware that a good start is vital if they are to take all-three-points at Villa Park as so far this calendar year the Blues have won nine of the 10 Premier League games which they have scored first; the only exception being a 3-2 defeat away at Newcastle after being 2-0 up early on.
Although having only found the net once in two games the Toffees aren’t without options up-front and although Dominic Calvert-Lewin is often the go-to man for Silva, an impressive display against Watford means that Moise Kean will be pushing for a start on Friday giving Everton plenty of options.
A point away at Palace on the opening game of the season wasn’t a disaster for Everton, especially seeing that they have only been victorious in three of their 10 away games in 2019, something they will have to improve on if they are to have ambitions of a top-four finish.
However, the fact that they have managed to score two or more goals in each of their last eight Premier League meetings with Aston Villa – 22 in total and their longest scoring streak against any team in the top-flight – will give plenty of confidence to a side who have ambitions of mounting a challenge for the European places if not more.
Having suffered defeats in their opening two games so far this season Aston Villa are desperate to get off the mark on their return to the Premier League but won’t find it easy against an improving Everton side.
Despite losing both Villa have looked impressive under Dean Smith in their first two outings of the season, pushing Spurs close in the season opener in North London before eventually falling to a late Harry Kane strike and looked dangerous at times in a 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth.
Smith favours an attacking approach and won’t be afraid to take the game to their visitors in what is likely to be a fabulous atmosphere under the lights knowing that in their last 19 home matches Villa have failed to find the net just once, though, of course, the Premier League is an entirely different prospect.
That said, they have also conceded in both games this season suggesting there may be a vulnerability at the back and having spent in excess of £100 million in the transfer market Villa will be keen to avoid the same fate as Fulham last season and drop back into the Championship at the first time of asking.
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