Premier League preview: Aston Villa v Everton

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Premier League preview: Aston Villa v Everton
Ever had the feeling that you’ve seen something before?
Ever had the feeling that you’ve seen something before? Aston Villa fans do.
A year after Villa were dumped out of the Europa League at home to Rapid Vienna in the playoff stage, they were dumped out of the Europa League at home to Rapid Vienna in the playoff stage in midweek, amid sloppy defending, even sloppier finishing and delighted Austrians dancing in the Villa Park stands.
It was a defeat that surely killed off caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald’s hopes of getting the job full time – good managers don’t turn a 2-1 lead with 12 minutes to go into a 3-2 defeat, and that’s without even mentioning the horror show that was St. James’ Park last Sunday.
“I was a player,” says MacDonald, who was in the Liverpool side that beat Everton at Wembley in the 1986 FA Cup final.
“I know what it is like and I think their own pride will make them play as well as they can. A lot of it has got to be of their own pride and if you put the European thing aside we have won one and lost one so we need to try and get another win to go into the international break with six points.
“These lads are very professional. They know what they want to do, they have a lot of pride in themselves. They want to get the right results.
“As for me, I would be satisfied to get a victory for Aston Villa. But if anybody said afterwards ‘you've beaten the Bluenoses’ I'd be quite happy with that!”
You can take the boy out of Merseyside…
You can take Everton out of Merseyside too, but don’t expect great results judging by the Blues’ performance in their only away game so far this season, an opening day defeat at Blackburn Rovers.
That was followed up by a disappointing home draw with Wolves, and with Manchester United on his immediate horizon, Everton boss David Moyes will want to prolong Villa’s pain this weekend, and a 5-1 thrashing of Huddersfield in the Carling Cup in midweek will have helped, won’t it?
“I thought some of the performances against Huddersfield were good,” said Moyes, “but I'm not sure if it made my selection decision any harder because it was a pretty tough shout before that. Everybody seems to think they know the right team apart from me, don't they? But that’s the way it is.”
He’ll be without his hat-trick of Nigerians at Villa Park – somewhat conveniently ahead of international duty – as Joseph Yobo has a thigh strain, Victor Anichebe a knee problem and Yakubu is ill, while Phil Neville remains doubtful with a foot injury.
For Villa, Gabriel Agbonlahor could only manage 40 minutes of the Rapid Vienna tie – some would say he was lucky – but he is expected to start, while Carlos Cuellar, James Collins, Richard Dunne and John Carew should all feature.
This appears to be all about Villa’s powers of recovery after their week from h**l, but there aren’t many tougher sides to face than Everton when you need a result, especially an Everton who are in dire need of a league win themselves.
All of which appears to suggest only one outcome, and if you’re experiencing your own sense of déjà vu as you see someone else about to sit on the fence, that’s probably because these two look like sides that can’t be separated.
No matter how many times you look at them.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2 Everton 2



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