A miserable festive period has left Sean Dyche’s Toffees looking over their shoulders again. How will they fare against the Premier League’s surprise title challengers? We look ahead to Sunday’s game at Goodison Park with our Everton vs Aston Villa prediction and preview.
Everton vs Aston Villa Stats: The Quick Hits
- Aston Villa are predicted to beat Everton by the Opta supercomputer, doing so in 40.2% of simulations, with the Toffees claiming three points 30.6% of the time.
- Since Everton defeated Arsenal in Sean Dyche’s first game in charge, they are winless in nine Premier League games against sides starting the day inside the top six, losing their last seven.
- Since winning promotion back to the Premier League in 2019, Aston Villa are unbeaten in nine league meetings with Everton, winning the last five in a row.
Everton seemed to be looking up when they started December with four successive victories, pulling clear of the Premier League’s bottom three and clawing back the 10 points they were deducted with interest. However, three defeats over the festive period have dragged the Toffees back into the relegation conversation, and things don’t get any easier for them on Sunday as they face surprise title challengers Aston Villa.
Everton approached their trip to Tottenham on 23 December seven points clear of the bottom three, but defeats to Spurs (2-1), Manchester City (3-1) and Wolves (3-0) – as well as Luton Town’s resurgence – have seen that buffer cut to one point, and the Opta supercomputer now assigns the Toffees a 17.1% chance of relegation.
Sean Dyche’s side stopped the rot in the third round of the FA Cup last week, holding Crystal Palace to a goalless draw at Selhurst Park despite Dominic Calvert-Lewin controversially receiving the first red card of his career. The Toffees have since won an appeal against the striker’s dismissal, so he avoids a three-match ban and will be eligible to face Villa.
Calvert-Lewin has gone nine league games without a goal since netting Everton’s winner against West Ham in October. He has just three Premier League goals from an expected goals (xG) total of 6.92 this season – no player in the competition has underperformed their xG figures by a greater margin.
Dyche will hope to provide the striker with more support on Sunday, with Abdoulaye Doucouré – Everton’s top scorer with six league goals this season – closing in on a return after almost a month out injured. Dwight McNeil is out after suffering an ankle injury last week and Idrissa Gueye is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, but Ashley Young could be available to face his former club.
Everton may have plenty of defending to do against a team that routed them 4-0 in August’s return fixture, and they will again lean heavily on the experience of James Tarkowski. Since Dyche’s first game in charge of the Toffees in February 2023, Tarkowski has blocked the most shots of any Premier League player (62), while ranking second for clearances (174) and third for headed clearances (98).
He also topped the charts for all three metrics between the start of 2017-18 and 10 April 2022, when playing under Dyche for Burnley (236 blocks, 967 clearances, 571 headed clearances).
Tarkowski and company have a job on their hands to keep Villa quiet, with Unai Emery’s team having won 85 Premier League points throughout 2023, putting them second only to Man City (93). Emery is averaging 2.02 points-per-game with Villa (91 points from 45 matches), and he is currently the only manager in Premier League history to average over two points per game across 40+ matches with a team without leading them to the title.
Might that change in 2024? With Liverpool not in action until January 21 as the Premier League observes its staggered winter break, Villa know a victory at Goodison Park will take them level with Jürgen Klopp’s leaders.
They had to ride their luck somewhat in their last league outing, beating 10-man Burnley 3-2 at Villa Park as Douglas Luiz converted a contentious 89th-minute penalty. It’s often said that those moments can define title races, though, and Villa have now scored seven Premier League goals in the 89th minute or later this season, a tally only matched by Liverpool.
Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby were also on target in that match, with Ollie Watkins laying on goals for both. Watkins’ 17 Premier League goal involvements (nine goals, eight assists) in 2023-24 are only bettered by Mohamed Salah (22) and Erling Haaland (18), and he is just the fifth different English player with at least eight goals and eight assists through 20 games of a Premier League season, and the first since Harry Kane in 2020-21 (12 goals, 11 assists).
It was another late show for Villa in the FA Cup last week, as Matty Cash’s deflected 87th-minute strike handed them a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough, with their first FA Cup win since 2016 teeing up a fourth-round trip to Chelsea. Villa could have Pau Torres and Youri Tielemans available for Sunday’s game, though former Everton left-back Lucas Digne is not expected back until later this month after suffering a thigh injury.
Everton vs Aston Villa Head-to-Head
The reverse fixture represented one of the low points of Everton’s season as they were hammered 4-0 at Villa Park on Matchday 2, with John McGinn and Jhon Durán joining Luiz and Bailey on the scoresheet.
Villa have had Everton’s number since returning to the Premier League in 2019, going unbeaten in their nine league meetings in that span (seven wins, two draws), winning the last five in a row.
Everton have also lost their last three home league matches against Villa, as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 19 (seven wins, nine draws).
Overall, Everton have struggled to match the Premier League’s elite under Dyche. Since beating a table-topping Arsenal side 1-0 in his first match in charge last February, the Toffees are winless in nine league games against teams starting the day inside the top six (one draw, eight defeats), losing their last seven in a row.
However, the Toffees did dump Villa out of the EFL Cup last September, with James Garner and Calvert-Lewin scoring in a 2-1 win at Villa Park.
Having endured a miserable festive period, Everton are looking to avoid losing four successive Premier League games for the first time since doing so in March 2022 under Frank Lampard.
Dyche, meanwhile, last lost four in a row in the competition with Burnley in April 2022. He was sacked shortly after that run.
Perhaps Villa’s away record might inspire some hope for the Toffees, though. While Emery’s team have collected a league-high 28 points at home this term, they have only won four of their 10 away games (two draws, four defeats), losing 3-2 at Manchester United on Boxing Day on their last road trip despite holding a 2-0 lead.
Villa will be hoping to carry their 2023 form into 2024. They won 26 league games last year, the second-most in one calendar year throughout their league history, having won 28 matches in 1972 when playing in the second and third tiers.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off in this game, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Everton vs Aston Villa Opta Player Ratings
Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:
Vitaliy Mykolenko: 69.1 (out of 100)
James Tarkowski: 65.3
Dwight McNeil: 65.0
Abdoulaye Doucouré: 65.0
Amadou Onana: 63.1
Douglas Luiz: 73.2 (out of 100)
Ollie Watkins: 72.9
John McGinn: 72.8
Leon Bailey: 71.8
Ezri Konsa: 71.4
Everton vs Aston Villa Prediction
While Villa have won most of their points at home this term, the Opta supercomputer makes them favourites for an away win on Matchday 21.
Of 10,000 match simulations conducted before kick-off, Villa won 40.2%, with Everton victorious in 30.6% and 29.2% finishing level.
In the supercomputer’s season predictions, Villa’s title hopes are currently rated at 2.5%, behind those of City (56.6%), Liverpool (37%) and Arsenal (3.4%). Emery’s men do look good for UEFA Champions League qualification, though, securing a top-four finish in 72.1% of simulations.
Everton’s current position of 17th (23.8%) is their most common across our projections, with Sheffield United, Burnley and Luton Town still seen as the most likely trio to suffer the drop.