Villa’s season continues with their first foray into the Carabao Cup on Wednesday when Everton come to Villa Park, with Villa entering at the third round stage due to their European involvement.
Unai Emery’s men come into the clash with Sean Dyche’s side off the back of a gritty and hard-fought win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, one that moved them up to sixth in the early standings.
Ollie Watkins’ second-half strike earned the Villans a 1-0 victory after Malo Gusto had been sent off for the hosts.
The triumph represented a host of positive things for the Claret and Blues: the goal was Watkins’ first Premier League strike of the season, it was the first time Villa had recorded back-to-back wins over the Londoners in 30 years, and the first time in 90 years that they had won successive matches in SW6.
The manner of the Claret and Blues’ first away maximum in seven was surely the most pleasing aspect for Emery.
By earning it on the counter-attack with a clean sheet, it saw a return to the dogged away displays seen last season in wins over Brighton & Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur, and Southampton, as opposed to the kamikaze style seen on the road at Anfield and St James’ Park so far in 2023/24.
A return to home comforts on Wednesday will be most welcome after Villa’s travails on the continent last week. Not least against an Everton side that they have already thrashed at Villa Park this season, following a 4-0 success in the Premier League in August.
The Birmingham outfit are looking to record their 11th straight home win in all competitions when Dyche’s men roll into town again.
With a cup specialist such as Emery at the helm, Villa will be hoping to take the first step towards rekindling a love affair with a competition they became the first-ever winners of in 1961, won four more times during the 1970s and 1990s, and finished as runners-up in 2010 and 2020.
Last season, the Villans were knocked out at this stage of the cup by eventual winners Manchester United
Dyche’s Everton, meanwhile, claimed their first Premier League win of the campaign last time out with an impressive and deserved 3-1 win at Brentford.
Goals from Abdoulaye Doucoure, James Tarkowski, and the fit-again Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the Toffees a vital three points that finally made good on their high XG and lifted them out of the bottom three.
Despite safety in the league being their main priority, the Goodison Park side will look to build on that result here for momentum reasons if nothing else.
Everton have never won the League Cup and were beaten in the 1977 final by Villa. Dyche’s men advanced to the third round this season after goals from Beto and Arnaut Danjuma gave them a 2-1 success over League Two strugglers Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Given Villa’s hectic schedule, Emery is expected to heavily rotate his squad ahead of the testing visit of Brighton on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Robin Olsen, Leander Dendoncker, Youri Tielemans, Clement Lenglet, and Calum Chambers may all come into the side.
Alex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey could start in order to build up their fitness after they both recently returned from injury.
Diego Carlos was back in training this week after injuring his thigh against Liverpool a few weeks ago, but it may be too early for him to make a cameo from the bench.
Emery is still without Tyrone Mings, Emiliano Buendia, Bertrand Traore, and Tim Iroegbunam, although Traore is not far off returning to the fold after a knock.
It will be much the same story for Everton selection-wise, with domestic security their main focus. Youssef Chermiti could be handed a start alongside Calvert-Lewin, with Beto held back in reserve.
Dyche is without Dele Alli and Jack Harrison who both have groin injuries, whilst Seamus Coleman and Andre Gomes are struggling with knee and calf strains, respectively.
Aston Villa (4-2-2-2)
Olsen; Chambers, Konsa, Lenglet, Moreno; Tielemans, Dendoncker; Ramsey, Bailey; Duran, Diaby
Virginia; Patterson, Keane, Godfrey, Young; Dajuma, Onana, Garner, Dobbin; Chermiti, Calvert-Lewin
Despite the rotation, Villa’s formidable home form may see them edge this encounter of two buoyant teams after their respective weekend results.
Jhon Duran will be eager to continue his recent goalscoring form and could notch against blue half on Merseyside for the second game running.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2 Everton 1