‘Slow start’ This is how the experts see Aston Villa’s Friday night clash with Everton
That’s the verdict from former England and Liverpool ace Michael Owen and ex-Arsenal and Scotland striker Charlie Nicholas.
It has been a frustrating start to life back in the top flight for Dean Smith’s side. Two impressive performances against, first, Spurs and then Bournemouth have yielded no points.
There defeat to the Cherries was particularly frustrating after they failed to come back from conceding two sloppy goals in the first 12 minutes.
Everton meanwhile remain unbeaten thus far, with four points from a possible six and have yet to concede a goal. With a win, the Toffees could go to the top of the table, for Friday night at least.
But Owen, who was an Evertonian growing up, believes Villa can do enough to earn a point in front of a sell out home crowd.
In his BetVictor column, he wrote: “Aston Villa have lost 14 of their last 15 Premier League games but will still be kicking themselves for such a slow start against Bournemouth on Saturday when individual mistakes saw them two-down inside the first quarter hour.
“Dean Smith will be hoping for a better start on Friday evening against an Everton side who have failed to impress so far this season but have yet to concede a goal.
“I can’t split the sides – a point apiece.”
Owen predicts 1-1.
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And Sky Sports pundit Nicholas agrees with Owen and sees Smith picking up his first result as a Premier League manager.
He said: “Villa have been OK. They had a good 60 minutes or so against Tottenham and then a bit of an eye-opener against Bournemouth last weekend. They have spent a lot of money but the quality steps up in the Premier League.
“I think Jack Grealish is playing too deep. John McGinn seems to be catching the eye with his driving runs and energy but Grealish should be further up the pitch and a bit closer to him.
“I don’t think Villa are too far away.
“Everton haven’t really clicked into action yet. I don’t think they are going to be amazing to watch but the improvement has definitely been defensively – Michael Keane has started the season well.
“Villa will think they need to get something on the board. I think it will be physical but not a high-scoring game.”
Charlie Nicholas predicts 1-1.