I’m very much looking forward to this year ending, with almost everything left behind us. But, if I can make an argument for one thing to be carried forward – it’s the spacing out of Premier League games.
Sunday has long been a lazy day, with a big feed and a self-induced coma on the couch for the remainder of the evening. For a lot of that, previously, you were trying to entertain yourself before 2pm and after six in the evening.
Well, no longer. Now, we’ve got Villa and Southampton kicking off at noon – the only viable reason to see the AM on a Sunday – as well as Newcastle and Everton backing that up almost immediately after the final whistle.
Now, nobody in their right minds expects Everton or Villa to compete for Premier League honours, but given the runaway starts so far, it would remiss to discount the former from Champions League talks and the latter from also seeing the continent next year. But, the narrative lands us at a very crucial Sunday doubleheader. In what could be a defining weekend of the season, here’s a tasty double to keep you company.
There’s a bit of a misconception about Aston Villa and it’s that they’re better going forward than they are at the back, that’s not quite true. I understand Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins and Ross Barkley headline an otherwise mediocre cast, but you can’t deny figures at this point. We can completely forget the Liverpool game for the purpose of this point, because it’s a complete red herring.
Minus that, Villa have scored just five times in four games – with three of those coming against whipping boys Fulham. I understand it’s a small sample size of course, but my praise for them actually lies in their structure and their ability to win games. It’s a tough mental process to establish. Villa are just better than Southampton, and should pick up a tight win here at home.
League leaders Everton. Still doesn’t sit right, does it? But it should. Despite their catastrophic defeat to Southampton last week, they are one of the best sides in the country and that’s largely down to the fact that they can rotate and still feel motivated.
Carlo Ancelotti knows how to change players’ minds from going through the motions to Championship-calibre mentality and that’s a gift. What the Toffees can achieve is unlimited, once they know how to get back up from disappointment because momentum can often flatter.
Luckily for them, they’re coming up against a team who don’t even really try when the opposition are better than them, so they’re best-placed to land three points here. Should this have been any other team in the league bar Fulham or West Brom, I couldn’t back at odds-on with any real confidence, but this feels like a no-brainer.
* All odds correct at time of first publishing but may change. Prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget.
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