I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dreading today's trip up to Goodison Park for Aston Villa to face Everton. After the club's miserable run of form lately, this seemed like a sure-fire beatdown. But in the match's second minute, Christian Benteke made me forget that dread for just a bit as he scored a lovely goal. It wasn't his most flashy, but it got the job done and did a wonderful job of catching the Everton defense napping.
But, if we're all honest, that seemed to be a goal far too early. The way they've played lately, there was no way Aston Villa would hold onto a 0-1 lead for 90 or so minutes. And sure enough, Ciaran Clark allowed himself to be muscled around in the 21st minute by Victor Anichebe for Everton's first goal of the match:
Oddly, it didn't feel like all hope had been lost. Villa were playing good enough football to possibly keep up with Everton. This didn't seem like a moment at which the team would crumble. And Gabriel Agbonlahor assured that feeling stuck when he scored a lovely header goal off of an Ashley Westwood cross in the 24th minute:
It remains to be seen if the club can keep up the good play in the second half - a problem they've had all year - but the opening signs are encouraging. Be sure to join in our open match thread to discuss the final 45 minutes!