“I can’t really make out what formation Everton will deploy today,” says Matt Burtz. “Iwobi isn’t a natural wing-back but filled that role capably against Huddersfield in the League Cup. Richarlison’s absence is notable, but with leading goalscorer Demarai Gray in the lineup, hopefully he can plug that gap. I look forward to seeing Salomon Rondon’s first start, and should fresh scoring legs be needed off the bench, perhaps 20-year-old Ellis Simms’ first appearance is in the cards? This will be a tough one today.”
There’s a bit of speculation that Richarlison is out because of that tackle by James Tarkowski on Monday night. I’m sure we’ll find out after the game.
The future’s yours but the past was mine
There was only one live game a week in 1989, so this was a huge deal – the day Villa bulldozed their way into the title race and David Platt became a household name.
Villa make one change from the team that was eventually well beaten at Stamford Bridge last weekend, with Emi Martinez replacing Jed Steer in goal.
There are three enforced changes for Everton, who beat Burnley 3-1 on Monday night. Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman and Richarlison are all unavailable; Asmir Begovic, Alex Iwobi and Salomon Rondon start, Rondon for the first time since joining the club. Everton only have eight players on the bench.
Aston Villa (3-5-2) Martinez; Konsa, Tuanzebe, Mings; Cash, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey, Targett; Ings, Watkins. Substitutes: Steer, Hause, Young, Nakamba, Buendia, El Ghazi, Bailey, Traore, Archer.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the oldest fixture in town. Aston Villa v Everton has been played more than any other game in English football, going back to 1888, and this is their 207th league meeting. That reflects their status as two of England’s grandest clubs; indeed, only Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have won more titles.
Love that stat while you can, because it’s likely to turn cold and stiff in the next few years. Villa and Everton trapped below the glass ceiling for most of the Premier League era, but they are at least moving in the right direction. Dean Smith needed only two years to take Villa from mid-table in the Championship to mid-table in the Premier League, and has since spent the Jack Grealish money wisely, while Everton have started attracting Champions League-winning managers.
They looked good at times under Carlo Ancelotti, and his replacement Rafa Benitez has had a near perfect start. A win today would put them joint top of the Premier League with Liverpool*.
Kick off 5.30pm.
* Assuming Liverpool beat Crystal Palace. They are 1-0 up with 15 minutes left.