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Villama Preview: Everton v Aston Villa

Sean Dyche and a resurgent Everton welcome Aston Villa to Goodison Park. Can Villa rebound after last week’s bitter loss to Arsenal, and who partners with Ollie Watkins at striker?

The build-up...

A 2-1 prediction against Arsenal was admittedly optimistic, but all isn’t lost with the 4-2 loss last Saturday. Ollie Watkins played well and John Duran, again, showed flashes (loved it when he hyped up the crowd), and while it wasn’t quite enough, it’s not the end of the world.

This week moves on to Goodison Park and Everton. The Toffees have spent the better part of the season in a relegation battle (currently 16th in the table to Villa’s 11th) and this fixture in particular looked like a good chance at three points until a managerial change introduced Sean Dyche.

Under Dyche, Everton have won two, 1-0 over Arsenal and 1-0 over Leeds United at Goodison Park, sandwiching the lone loss, 2-0 at Anfield to Liverpool. Players to look out for include but shouldn’t be limited to former Villan Idrissa Gueye in midfield, fellow midfielder Alex Iwobi, and Conor Coady at center-back.

Last time we met at Goodison Park...

Aston Villa grinded out a 1-0 away win at Goodison Park last season, with Emi Buendia scoring a looping header from a Lucas Digne corner.

The line-up...

This week, Villa could go a number of different directions with the line-up. You could continue like last week, with Emi Buendia playing up top, you could go back to Leon Bailey partnering with Ollie Watkins, perhaps start Jhon Duran, or perhaps give the newly-returning Bertrand Traore a go.

I want to see Duran start as much or more than most, but it’s obvious Unai Emery thinks he needs a bit more time. Watch him start this week after saying that, but I’d guess it’s between Buendia and Bailey, with Traore as a a dark-horse.

It’s going out on a limb, but I’d like to see Traore given a chance in the starting line-up. Worst thing that happens is subbing him out for Bailey or Duran after half-time.

The rest of the line-up is more familiar. Emi Martinez starts in goal, with Alex Moreno at left-back and Matty Cash on the right. Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konza partner at center-back. The double pivots will be Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz, while Emi Buendia is on the left and John McGinn is on the right to round out the midfield. Left midfield could arguably go to Philippe Coutinho (started last week and played well) or Jacob Ramsey, but I’d stick with Buendia.

Score prediction...

Everton are playing well under Dyche and while still in a relegation scrap, they are out of the bottom three and looking like they might see things through. It may not be the three points we all want, but a 1-1 draw seems reasonable.

Aston Villa v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Could Emi Buendia make the difference for Aston Villa once again at Goodison Park?
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images