The most played fixture in English football was seasoned with the spices of various subplots, as the lunchtime kick-off saw Duncan Ferguson, Steven Gerrard, and Lucas Digne all return to Everton. But, despite all the clichés about working harder under ‘Big Dunc’, Everton failed to live up to the pre-match hype, as they failed to register a first-half shot.
Instead, it was the visitors, who went close when Buendía saw his strike from the edge of the box palmed away by Jordan Pickford before Ollie Watkins later stabbed his shot wide from close range. The chances continued as the England center-forward saw his point-blank header denied by his international counterpart Pickford, who showed wonderful athleticism, and later stopped Philippe Coutinho on his first Villa start. But Gerrard’s men eventually got their reward on the stroke of HT when Buendía capitalized on poor marking from a Digne’ corner, darting to the near post and then heading home the opener.
Rafael Benítez became the fifth Everton manager to be sacked in six years earlier this week, and Goodison Park certainly felt different with an Evertonian in the dugout, as the hosts pressured the visitors. Roared on by the home faithful, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were unable to hit the target. Tyrone Mings then preserved the Villa lead when he later cleared Ben Godfrey’s header off the line, with Yerry Mina twice sending a header to the wrong side of the post, as Everton’s side were unable to equalizer in front of their fans yet again.
After Everton failed to hit the 20-point mark 18 games into a season for the first time since 2005/06, the Toffees have found little improvement in results since. Villa’s PL double-over Everton moves them into the top half. Meanwhile, the hosts remain five points off the bottom three, having lost 10 of their previous 13 PL matches.