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Premier League

  • 29 August 2010
  • • 16:00
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: M. Jones
  • • Attendance: 34725
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Premier League Preview: Aston Villa - Everton

Premier League Preview: Aston Villa - Everton

Old MacDonald had a job

Aston Villa manager Kevin MacDonald must be wondering if it's all worth it heading into what could be a very tough home game against Everton.

The Scot celebrated his first game in temporary charge of the Birmingham outfit with a convincing 3-0 win on opening day over West Ham United. A hard-fought draw with Rapid Vienna in the Europa League was worthy of some celebration before things really came apart on Sunday on Tyneside.

Newcastle United ran riot at St James' Park, thrashing MacDonald's men 6-0. With a Europa League home defeat to their Viennese nemesis occurring on Thursday, the world is a grimmer place for Villa now. MacDonald is reputed to be more popular among his players than predecessor Martin O'Neill was, perhaps proving the point that you don't have to be liked to be good at your job.

Villa were pretty clueless against Rapid on Thursday night, conceding goals far too easily in a 3-2 defeat in which Stiliyan Petrov missed a penalty and Emile Heskey a sitter. Petrov provided little leadership in a shapeless looking side bereft of any real cutting edge up front and desperately needing someone who could pass the ball in the middle of the park.

A line-up shuffle would seem inevitable, particularly as the Villans have now conceded 20 goals in their last ten Premier League encounters.

Time for the Toffees to get on track

Everton meanwhile need a win to avoid their worst opening spell since 1999, the last time that they failed to record a win in their opening three Premier League fixtures.

Under David Moyes, starting slowly has sometimes been an issue for Everton, but at least this season he looks to have most of his key men fit after a clogged treatment room really hindered the Merseysiders last season.

An uncharacteristic error from Tim Howard cost them their opening day fixture at Blackburn Rovers, with a draw at home to Wolves following on from that. They warmed up for Villa though by hammering Huddersfield Town 5-1 in the League Cup on Wedenesday night, with key men such as Jack Rodwell, Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini all getting on the scoresheet.

Those players will be keen to make up for some of last season's lost time during this campaign. A win at Villa would get things nicely on track.


Rapid exit | Now Villa need to generate some domestic cheer


TEAM NEWS

Aston Villa

John Carew, Richard Dunne and Gabriel Agbonlahor should all be back in contention after shaking off knee, back and calf problems, repsectively.

Steve Sidwell (Achilles) and Andreas Weimann (ankle) both miss out.

MacDonald may feel the side needs a little fresh blood, and young Scot Barry Bannan might provide it. The diminutive midfielder has a fine left foot and the kind of determined attitude that will be needed in bucketloads against the Toffees.

Possible Starting XI: Friedel; L Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Kuyt, Petrov, Ireland, Bannan; A Young, Downing, Carew.

Everton

Nigerian trio Victor Anichebe, Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Joesph Yobo all miss out. Anichebe has an ongoing knee problem, whilst Yakubu has been struck down by illness. Yobo has picked up a thigh strain.

Phil Neville is doubtful with the foot problem that kept him out against Wolves and Huddersfield.

Possible Starting XI: Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Pienaar, Heitinga, Arteta, Bilyaletdinov; Cahill; Saha
.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
24Brad FriedelGoalkeeper
13Stephen WarnockDefender
5Richard DunneDefender
19James CollinsDefender
18Luke YoungDefender
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
19Stilian PetrovMidfielder
20Nigel Reo-CokerMidfielder
12Marc AlbrightonMidfielder
18Ashley YoungMidfielder
10John Alieu CarewStriker
1Bradley GuzanGoalkeeper
43Eric LichajDefender
46Barry BannanMidfielder
-Emile HeskeyStriker
24Carlos Javier CuéllarDefender
32Stephen IrelandMidfielder
11Gabriel AgbonlahorStriker
24Tim HowardGoalkeeper
3Leighton BainesDefender
15Sylvain DistinDefender
6Phil JagielkaDefender
2Tony HibbertDefender
22Steven PienaarMidfielder
17Jack RodwellMidfielder
25Marouane FellainiMidfielder
8Mikel ArtetaMidfielder
17Tim CahillMidfielder
9Jermaine BeckfordStriker
1Jan MuchaGoalkeeper
21Leon OsmanMidfielder
19Magaye GueyeStriker
23Seamus ColemanDefender
5John HeitingaDefender
7Diniyar BilyaletdinovMidfielder
8Louis SahaStriker
Players to Watch
Stephen Ireland
Stephen Ireland
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 32
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Stephen Ireland is a good signing for Villa but he must show the kind of form he displayed the season before last at Manchester City. If times remain tough at Villa then the last thing the club will need is any sulking or the kind of psychological fragililty he has shown in the past.

On his day though, the Irishman can control a midfield with his passing and invention. Against Rapid Vienna those qualities were sadly lacking and Ireland could be the man to trigger a response.
John Heitinga
John Heitinga
Position: Defender
Squad Number: 5
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
John Heitinga has been operating as a defensive midfielder for the Toffees so far this season, after enjoying a successful World Cup with the Netherlands.

The Dutchman is a quality performer, and his organisation and sheer defensive strength in the middle of the park will be crucial in subduing Villa's challenge. His hard work should also create the space for Mikel Arteta, the real artist of the team, to work his magic.

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