Welcome back. It seems like an eternity since Villa played Manchester City, and whilst the international break got in the way, it was also overshadowed by the horrible events that took place in Paris. So I guess it's nice that football is back this weekend, not to forget about what happened last Friday, but to keep to a routine and carry on, because that shows strength.
Anyways, Villa travel up North to face Everton this Saturday, and whilst it wasn't that long ago that the two sides met, things couldn't be more different, especially for Aston Villa. Check out what happened last time:
The last time we met
Back when Villa were still relegation threatened, Everton came to town looking to pile more misery on a Villa side coming off of a tough loss against Manchester City. What followed was an extremely resilient Aston Villa performance, as they came away with a 3-2 win.
Christian Benteke netted a brace and Tom Cleverley grabbed the third which cancelled out Romelu Lukaku and Phil Jagielka's goals. Unfortunately, whilst Lukaku and Jagielka could punish Villa on Saturday, neither Benteke or Cleveley will be on hand to help us. In fact, there is a possibility that Tom Cleverley might play against Villa, having signed for Everton in the summer. He hasn't featured much so far, having picked up a serious ankle injury, but he could be set to return on the weekend, which isn't entirely ideal for Villa.
It's not all bad, there were positives aplenty during the game. Jack Grealish assisted Benteke's second from a corner, which proves that when Ashley Westwood doesn't take corners, Villa have a chance of doing something with them. Speaking of assists, Leandro Bacuna's ball which set Cleverley up was a thing of beauty. Seriously, go find it if you can. I'm not sure if Bacuna will start this time around, but performances like his against Everton just show what he can do on his day. Another positive to take away is that Everton got back into the game thanks to a Romelu Lukaku penalty. Thanks to a foul by Ron Vlaar. In fact, this is how the BBC described it:
"Vlaar's clumsy challenge on Steven Naismith."
That basically summed up Ron Vlaar's Aston Villa career. Clumsy. Granted, Ciaran Clark will struggle against Lukaku, but Ron Vlaar was a foul in the 18 yard box waiting to happen. So that shouldn't happen this time. I hope.
A word on nicknames
Usually I save the second part of this piece for something important, but not today. See, Aston Villa have some pretty cool nicknames; The Lions, The Claret and Blue army etc. Everton meanwhile are known as The Toffees. Like, seriously. The football team is named after these:
Everton mints are gross, sticky and they get stuck in your teeth once you've finished them. How is that appealing? I consider myself a bit of a confectionery aficionado, and Everton mints are right down the bottom. Just for reference, here's my top three:
1. Pear Drops
2. Haribo's (Of ANY kind)
3. Wine Gums
Everton this season
Everton are currently in 8th place, which is a decent enough place to be. But when you consider the fact that their only defeats have come to Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, that actually looks quite impressive. They've also picked up wins over Southampton and Chelsea, and a 6-2 win against Sunderland. In addition, they've done all this without arguably their best player in Leighton Baines, who has been injured.
So this gives Villa quite a lot of cause to be concerned. I'm actually fairly pessimistic about this one, which is weird considering I was optimistic heading into the Manchester City game. Weird. I'm not saying that Villa don't have a chance, because they do. But it's going to be extremely tough, just like the fight to stay in the division will be. Think of it then as THE season defining game. Villa need to fight, and win, just to prove that they CAN fight. Because survival is at stake.