25th October 2013
Aston Villa are hoping the return of Christian Benteke will help them return to winning ways and further escape the danger zone, but beating in-form Everton will be no easy task. The Toffees have now won four of last five Premier League fixtures, with Benteke’s compatriot Romelu Lukaku especially impressive since his arrival from Chelsea.
It took Paul Lambert quite a while to make this team his own and persuade the fans that this is the right way to go, but things are going much easier now that he has the full backing of the board, players and fans. It was the difficult fixture list and the injury to Christian Benteke that prevented Villa from picking up more than 10 points from first 8 fixtures, but it is perfectly clear nobody sees them as candidates for the drop any more. After impressing to beat Norwich and Manchester City and bringing one point from Kingston upon Hull, Aston Villa were beaten at home by star-studded Tottenham Hotspur, but the team are unlikely to be too downhearted by that result. The Villans rather need to focus on the home game against Everton, which is certainly a match they can win. And even if they have failed to score in last two clashes, the hosts can be expected to rediscover their scoring form now that Christian Benteke returns to the starting line-up, especially since Everton have been leaking goals for fun under Roberto Martinez. Paul Lambert should also have Ciaran Clark available for selection, but Gary Gardner and Marc Albrighton remain injury doubts and Charles N’Zogbia and Jores Okore are out injured.
Roberto Martinez was always going to bring something special to Everton and it is more than evident that the style of play has changed a great deal in such a short time. The Toffees are now much more dangerous up front, as witnessed by ten goals scored in last five matches, but the back line is also conceding way more than they used to. Once one of the bes defences in the league has leaked in no less than ten goals in the same period, so Everton cannot really be expected to keep a rare clean sheet at Villa Park. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t prove to be a problem as long as Romelu Lukaku continues his impressive form that has seen him bag four goals in as many matches since joining from Chelsea. With Kevin Mirallas finally ending his goal drought and Steven Pienaar marking his return with a goal, chances are we will see another high-scoring match when Everton face Aston Villa in Birmingham. Roberto Martinez is still without Antolin Alcaraz and Darron Gibson, whereas John Heitinga is doubtful with a muscle problem.
The return of Christian Benteke should make Aston Villa much more dangerous up front, with the hosts determined to expose the defensive weaknesses of the opposition. Everton, 13/10 to triumph at Villa Park, go into this match high on confidence hoping to stay within touching distance of their top 4 rivals.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 10/11
Bookmaker: William Hill