Despite some early pressure, Villa were able to find a goal that rocked the first half. Wesley, a new signing up front, rolled his defender and latched onto a Jota through ball, burying his shot beyond Jordan Pickford to pick up his first goal in England, and indeed his first goal in the claret and blue of Aston Villa. A goal that may end up being loud enough to silence his harsh critics.
With Villa turning the tables on Everton so early, the attacking impetus was handed towards The Toffees who tried to enforce control on the game via patient possession and clinical passing. It’s important to understand the game state here, and Everton’s superiority in the shots, xG and possession margins may be reflected less by Aston Villa ‘sitting back’ and more so by Everton launching overload-after-overload at them to find their way back into the match.
They’d need more help than they got, though. A glaring miss from Theo Walcott in the face of goal summed up Everton’s evening. Despite intelligent movement in the final-third, Marco Silva’s side were unable to turn their controlling attacking mentality into goals. It was refreshing to see an Aston Villa side take advantage of another teams woe than the usual reverse of that. Alex Iwobi came close to converting, but was denied by the post and the stretching glove of Tom Heaton.
Everton’s frustrations emerged when Seamus Coleman kicked a free-kick through Trezeguet, who was attempting to encroach and block the Irishman.
A big factor in Villa’s clean-sheet was the joint performance of Björn Engels and Tyrone Mings, who met the aerial ball with colossal might. Mings was able to play Villa out from suffocating pressing, while Engels came up a big block to ensure victory for Villa. Debutant Frederic Guilbert also impressed, controlling the right-flank and aiding Jota in the attack.
Anwar El-Ghazi, a substitute on the evening, emerged to damn Everton to defeat by dancing in between the defenders and pushing the ball past Pickford to double the scoreline and justify Dean Smith’s decision to bring him on - and condemn his decision to bench the flying Dutchman in the first place.
Smith, Villa’s Head Coach, was clearly vindicated after facing steeper criticism than promotion partners Daniel Farke and Chris Wilder, and as Sweet Caroline throbbed into the stifling night sky hanging above Villa Park, he might be wondering how often he can achieve the exact same scenario.