Everton vs Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s surprising Premier League title pursuit continues at Goodison Park against out-of-form Everton.

Despite making it five competitive games without winning with a spirited 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace in FA Cup action last time out, Everton at least arrested a dismal four-match losing streak ahead of their impending Premier League return. A ten-day break has given manager Sean Dyche plenty of time to rally his troops as he bids to revive Everton’s survival hopes following November’s ten-point deduction. Level on points with 18th-placed Luton Town, the ‘Toffees’ will relish homecoming after winning two of their last three Premier League games at Goodison by 2+ goals ‘to nil’ (L1). But despite beating Aston Villa 2-1 in their most recent encounter in the League Cup, the Merseyside underachievers have lost their last five top-flight H2Hs, including an embarrassing 4-0 defeat in the reverse fixture.

A third consecutive Premier League double over Everton is on the cards for high-flying Aston Villa, who opened the new calendar year with a narrow 1-0 FA Cup win at second-tier Middlesbrough. Unai Emery’s side closed out 2023 in a similar vein, squeezing past Burnley 3-2 at home to end a two-game winless league run (D1, L1) and stay within a two-point distance of table-topping Liverpool. However, the ‘Lions’ have blown hot and cold across their last five Premier League travels (W2, D1, L2), conceding 2+ goals on three occasions. It doesn’t mean Villa won’t take this trip in high spirits, knowing only perennial champions Manchester City (93) bettered their 85-point tally in 2023.

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