England’s most played fixture will be played for the two-hundred-and-nineteenth time this afternoon, as the Villans travel to Goodison Park to take on the Toffees. Historically, these two clubs have been viewed as ones of similar stature but their fortunes have differed in recent seasons. With the Villans stranded at the foot of the table, five points from safety, Martinez’s men sit in a much more respectable ninth place.
Having seen his new side keep a rare clean sheet and pick up a point, the team’s first since August, against Manchester City in his first game in charge, Garde will have been encouraged. The new manager has clear ideas about how he would like his side to play and will be hoping to build on that result. Although desperate to end the club’s two-month winless run, in reality, even a draw would be a good result for a Villa side that did not look capable of scoring against the Citizens and that allowed the visitors too many chances.
The Villans have lost their last five games on the road and this afternoon’s game at Goodison could prove to be a difficult test. Having chewed up the Black Cats and spat them out, emerging 6-2 winners, the Toffees followed that impressive attacking display with a solid performance against West Ham United, in which they came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw.
Everton: D W L L D
Aston Villa: D L L L L
Jordan Amavi will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury incurred on international duty for France’s Under-21 side
Jores Okore (knee) is nearing a return but is not expected to feature today.
Gabby Agbonlahor (calf), Rudy Gestede (knee) and Ashley Westwood (head) are all injury doubts.
Hutton Richards Clark Richardson
Gil Grealish Sinclair
The Toffees are unbeaten in their last three Premier League games and will be looking to pick up where they left off before the international break. At times, the Merseysiders have been unpredictable but Martinez, buoyed by Romelu Lukaku’s impressive form that has seen the Belgian score seven goals, will probably feel that the hosts possess enough strength and quality in attack to secure a home win. The Belgian needs a solitary goal this afternoon to hit the fifty mark in the Premier League.
Midfielder Tom Cleverley, who was on loan to Aston Villa last season, could return to action following an ankle injury.
Leighton Baines is also close to a return after an ankle injury.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Venue: Goodison Park
Tickets: The away allocation has sold out
Last meeting: 2nd May 2015 – Aston Villa 3 – Everton 2
2-0 – Mark Lawrenson
2-0 – Paul Merson
2-1 – AnneMc