Argentinian internationals Emi Buendia and Emi Martinez have completed a 10-day quarantine in Croatia and are in contention to start for Aston Villa in Saturday’s match against Everton.
The duo rejoins a Villa side that had a good showing in a 3-0 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week.
Everton presents a new challenge for Villa as Dean Smith continues to mold his new-look squad. The gaffer will have nearly all first-team veterans at his disposal and will believe his side can take all three points at home.
The Toffees are undefeated four games into the season, having won three matches and drawn another. They’re fresh off a 3-1 win at Burnley on Monday, in which newcomers Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray both tallied.
Villa enter the match unbeaten by Everton in their last four Premier League meetings, having won two and drawn two. The 2-0 victory on August 23, 2019–at the time, the club’s first Premier League win in over three years–is especially memorable, having come in front of a packed Villa Park.
Villa have not lost in their previous four home Premier League contests but meet an Everton side adept at securing points away from home. The Toffees have lost just two of their previous 17 away matches in the Premier League. Those losses came at Chelsea and Manchester City in 2020/21.
Aston Villa vs. Everton team news
Smith will evaluate Buendia and Martinez on Saturday morning when the two touch down in Birmingham. Whether they feature in the starting XI or start from the bench is yet to be determined.
Other than Trezeguet, who is out long-term, Villa will be without academy products Carney Chukwuemeka and Jaden Philogene-Bidace. Both were injured on duty with England squads at the last international break.
James Rodriguez could return to the Everton squad, having not yet featured this season. Fabian Delph and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are the only senior squad members set to miss out.
Aston Villa formation: Smith to stick with 3-5-2?
How will Smith line Aston Villa up for Saturday’s tilt with Everton? We don’t know, but he certainly has options.
The gaffer went with a 3-5-2 set-up at Chelsea last week and had this to say about his decision:
"“We played that way last week because I felt that Chelsea would cause us problems. We negated their system, but we made mistakes and didn’t take our chances.”"
The 3-5-2 got both Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins onto the pitch together, while ensuring there was sufficient cover in midfield. The result: an effective high press that caused Chelsea fits. Points were there for the taking had Villa converted on first-half scoring opportunities.
While it makes sense to line up similarly for the Everton match, a 3-5-2 all but ensures natural wingers Leon Bailey, Bertrand Traore, Anwar El Ghazi, and Buendia start from the bench.
Bailey, Traore, and Buendia have yet to find their footing this season, and thus Smith could revert to the more traditional 4-3-3. That would likely mean Ings–who has more goals against Everton than any other club in the Prem–starts from the bench.
It’s give and take for Smith now that he has a deep and talented squad at his disposal. New additions and formation fluidity make Villa unpredictable every week.
Aston Villa projected Starting XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Douglas Luiz, J. Ramsey; Traore, Watkins, Bailey
Everton projected Starting XI: Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne; Doucoure, Allan, Gomes; Townsend, Richarlison, Gray
Date/time: Saturday, September 18 at 5:30 PM BST/12:30 PM EST
Ground: Villa Park
Referee: Craig Pawson
TV/Streaming UK: Sky Sports
TV/Streaming US: NBC