Match Report: Aston Villa 1, Everton 3
Goals: Aston Villa — El Ahmadi 75 (Lichaj); Everton — Pienaar 3 (Naismith) , Fellaini 31 (Jagielka), Jelavic 44 (Baines)
Shots: Aston Villa 9 (2 on target); Everton 22 (6)
Possession: Aston Villa 39 %; Everton 61 %
Everton crush Aston Villa – their first win over the team in their last 12 matches, and their first at Villa Park in seven years – behind first-half goals from Steven Pienaar, Maroane Fellaini and Nivica Jelavic. It was a horrendous performance from Villa, who see the optimism behind the appointment of new manager Paul Lambert rapidly diminishing – this team simply isn’t good enough to compete in the Premier League. Makes you long for the days where Everton were almost as good as us in the fight for European spots, doesn’t it? Karim El Ahmadi had a consolation goal for Villa, who actually were much better in the second half, but it really doesn’t matter. Everton will probably finish somewhere 5th-7th again this season, though I’d love to see them finish in a Champions League place. As for Villa, Lambert got his team selection wrong; they sorely missed the creativity of Stephen Ireland and Brett Holman, and the right-sided combination of Matt Lowton and Chris Herd was overrun, though in fairness, so was the rest of the team. Terrible.
Shay Given, GK – 4; Tentative in goal. Arguably could’ve stopped either of the first two goals. Is it time to give Brad Guzan a start?
Nathan Baker, D – 6; Looked much more comfortable at left back, though he did let Jagielka get by for the second goal. More assured than Ciaran Clark in central defense once he replaced him.
Ron Vlaar, D – 6.5; Once again solid at the back. He looks composed on the ball too.
Ciaran Clark, D – 4.5; Outjumped for Fellaini’s header, sent off somewhat harshly for a professional foul in the second half. Needs to be better.
Matt Lowton, D – 5; Pienaar and Baines owned him on the left wing. Welcome to the Premier League, kid.
Karim El-Ahmadi, M – 6.5; Started off slowly and didn’t see much of the ball, but played better as the game wore on. He looks like a good signing, still.
Barry Bannan, M – 5; Performance will once again raise questions about whether he’s too lightweight for the Premier League. Brought little to the table.
Chris Herd, M – 5; Lambert’s decision to play him on the right raises the question of why he didn’t just start him at right back. Tried hard, but offered nothing going forward.
Charles N’Zogbia, M – 5; Probably leading the league in the most dribbles out of bounds. I feel like I say this every week, but at some point, he just needs to be dropped, no matter how much he cost or what he did before.
Nathan Delfouneso, M – 5; Another strange selection from Lambert. Probably not match-sharp, and certainly not an attacking midfielder. Replaced at halftime.
Darren Bent, F – 6; Once again, never got the ball, played no role. You have to wonder how long he’s going to want to stick around unless some decent players are signed.
Brett Holman, SUB – 6; Villa looked better with him on the pitch. Should be starting.
Eric Lichaj, SUB – 6; Brought energy off the bench. Probably will start on the left against Newcastle with Clark banned because of his red card.
Andreas Weimann, SUB – NR; Only on briefly; hit the post late on. Should be ahead of Delfouneso in the pecking order, you would think.
Grade: F. Though the performance late on with Holman, Lichaj and Weimann was better, overall, this was as bad – or worse – than any of the matches under Alex McLeish. In fact, I’d go so far as saying this is the worst I’ve EVER seen Villa play at home. Villa need four or five new signings, or they very well could be in the Championship next year. Suggestions for the next match: 1. Sign new players; 2. Start Guzan for Given; 3. Give Holman and Ireland back their starting spots; 4. Drop N’Zogbia; 5. Put Baker in the center of defense and see if he plays well enough to keep Clark out; 6. Start Lichaj either on the right or left; 7. Start Weimann instead of Delfouneso, or better yet, sign a striker