The second ‘Cazoo Derby’ in 12 days was played on Thursday night when Aston Villa once again played Everton, this time at Villa Park. Dean Smith’s Villans went into this game hoping to not only surpass the fifty goal mark last achieved in the Martin O’Neil days but also to climb back into the top half ahead of Arsenal and Leeds. Ancelotti’s Toffees on the other hand wanted to strengthen their case for European football next season and climb to seventh with a win. Villa won the first of the ‘Cazoo Derbies’ but was not as creative tonight and was not able to muster a goal to win all three points, despite the return of a certain Jack Grealish. It was also a big night for Emi Martinez, who matched Brad Freidel’s record for clean sheets in a single campaign with 15.
Before we get into the game, let’s take a look at the starting elevens for both teams on the night:
Aston Villa XI:
In the opening period of the game, both sides were lacking creativity and conviction going forward, with only minor chances for both sides coming through Traore and Calvert-Lewin respectively in the first fifteen minutes of what was a tight contest. Villa’s best chance of the half came just minutes later when Douglas Luiz works an excellent position for a cross, which he manages to get into the box, but Mings could only head the golden opportunity wide. Unlucky, but should almost definitely have scored nonetheless.
Both teams overall were lacking the creativity required to create chances and score goals in the first half, but Everton created more chances than the home side on the counter-attack, but none of these efforts worried Martinez in goal. Both sides were struggling to retain possession at certain points, making chance creation an even harder task to accomplish, but Villa went into halftime buoyed by the chance created for Tyrone Mings but disappointed with their overall play going forward.
The second half started with the visitors dominating the chances and possession early on, leading to Everton’s first big chance of the game from Godfrey’s header following a free-kick from Sigurdsson. But luckily for Villa, Martinez was there to make the save and maintain parity. Anwar El Ghazi then had a free-kick saved by Pickford, and that was the biggest chance to speak of from Villa’s point of view in the second forty-five.
With chances for Villa at a premium, spirits were lifted when captain Jack Grealish made his return from his lengthy spell on the sidelines and had an instant impact, going on a mazy run to create a move that was thwarted by the Everton backline.
Villa almost lost the game in the last few seconds when a ball across the penalty area seemed destined to land at Calvert-Lewin’s feet for a tap in, only for Mings to heroically hook the ball away to keep the score level, only to then collide with Emi Martinez. Thankfully, after a few worrying minutes, both players were able to continue and were not injured. Matty Cash was seemingly not so lucky on the injury front, having to come off for Elmohamady with what seems to be a hamstring issue.
Overall, you would have to say that a draw was a fair result given the lack of chance creation from both sides. Both sides did however have a golden chance to take home all three points, but with neither chance resulting in a goal, both sides had to settle for a point.
Adam – UTV
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