It was a 3-0 loss to Chelsea, but one that wasn’t quite as bleak as the score would imply. But, with a new week comes fresh opportunity, with the return of Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia just hours prior to kick-off on Saturday as the duo return from quarantining in Croatia after representing Argentina in international play.
Villa played with three at the back in the pair’s absence, but it remains to be seen if the formation returns to the more familiar 4-3-3. The back four of Matt Targett, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konza, and Matty Cash could be back in place with Emi Martinez at keeper. The midfield trio of Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey, and John McGinn have worked well together, so there’s no reason to tinker with that.
In contrast, the front three isn’t quite as predictable. I’d like to see Leon Bailey on the left wing, Ollie Watkins in the middle, and Bertrand Traore on the right. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to see Danny Ings (five goals against Everton over the course of his career) rather than Ollie Watkins, but I wouldn’t expect Emi Buendia to start on the right given the very recent return to the squad.
Everton, a team named after candy and my little brother’s team of choice, are thankfully without star striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has scored thrice over the season. Everton will surely look to make up for his production with Demarai Gray on the left (also having scored three times) as well as contributions from Abdoulaye Doucouré at center midfield. The Toffees arrive at Villa Park following a 3-1 win over Burnley on Monday evening and have produced goals consistently over the course of the season, averaging two and a half a game.
PREDICTION: I’d like to pick Villa to win, but a 2-2 draw sounds about right given Everton’s strong form throughout the first four games of the Premier League season.