Another week's gone by, and it was another good Aston Villa performance. Beating an Everton side that had won five and drawn one of their last six was a great result, and the way Villa did it was even better. Aside from a penalty that could have been avoided, and a late goal that was the product of some questionable refereeing, the defenders stepped up. Shay Given was in for Brad Guzan after the latter's error against Manchester City, and didn't have a whole lot to do.
The midfield won the possession battle again, and this is starting to look like a key to the success that the Claret and Blues have been enjoying. Seeing more of the ball doesn't always lead to creating more chances, but it certainly helps. Tom Cleverley showed fantastic vision to start a defence-splitting run, on which he was played in perfectly by Leandro Bacuna, resulting in a goal. It was a fantastic finish, and Cleverley's second in as many matches. The trio of him, Fabian Delph, and Ashley Westwood in central midfield has been working as intended, and they should continue to start. Without a reliable second striker available to partner Christian Benteke, Tim Sherwood knew that Charles N'Zogbia needed to play opposite Jack Grealish on the right wing. The two did a great job providing a creative influence, and both look like they're allowed to roam freely for the most part.
Here's Grealish's attacking dashboard from FourFourTwo's Stats Zone. Three chances created (two from corners!), and he was fouled five times just outside the final third. Completing 92 percent of his passes wasn't too bad either.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce will be more than happy to cede possession and play the long game. He's missing strikers Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho due to injury, meaning a shift from a two-striker system to a formation with just one has been a necessity. The pair have tallied 15 goals on the season, and missing them could help on set pieces from Villa's perspective. However, adding another midfielder could be smart for the Hammers to combat the possession game Sherwood likes to play. In attack, they like to play crosses, and former Villan Stewart Downing leads the team with eight assists. Enner Valencia will be the target, and the Colombian striker has four goals in his inaugural Premier League season. If Villa win the possession battle again, look for the Hammers to play directly and use their wide players.
We'll see another former player return to Villa Park in James Collins. He and 18-year-old Reece Burke will have their hands full against Christian Benteke. Left back Aaron Cresswell has been good turning defence into attack for the Hammers, providing four assists this year. On the right side, Carl Jenkinson could be in for a long day against Jack Grealish.
Aston Villa (4-3-3):
Shay Given; Leandro Bacuna, Jores Okore, Ron Vlaar, Kieran Richardson; Tom Cleverley, Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph; Charles N'Zogbia, Christian Benteke, Jack Grealish.
West Ham (4-2-3-1):
Adrián; Carl Jenkinson, James Collins, Reece Burke, Aaron Cresswell; Cheikhou Kouyaté, Mark Noble; Stewart Downing, Kevin Nolan, Morgan Amalfitano; Enner Valencia.
Would you keep the same lineup if you were Tim Sherwood? Let us know in the comments!