Aston Villa return to Premier League action this afternoon as they travel away from Birmingham to take on Sean Dyche’s Everton at Goodison Park.
The Villans were in FA Cup action last weekend as they secured a 1-0 win away at Championship side Middlesbrough, who then went on to beat Chelsea in the League Cup a few days later.
Unai Emery’s side booked their place in the fourth round of the competition and will now face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – 12 days after their clash with the Toffees.
The Spanish head coach could look to make alterations to the starting XI that defeated Middlesbrough last time out, and here is FFC’s predicted Villa line-up to take on Everton – with five changes…
In between the sticks, Emiliano Martinez should make his 20th start in the top-flight this season, having been the number one throughout the campaign so far.
The Argentina international has enjoyed a save success rate of 68% so far and has prevented 1.14 goals more than expected based on Expected Goals, which shows that he has been an above average performer in goal.
Emery could keep Ezri Konsa in the starting XI but move him from centre-back to the right side of the back four ahead of Matty Cash to accommodate the next two players in this predicted team.
The English titan has started 20 Premier League matches so far this season and completed 92% of his attempted passes, which shows that he has been supremely reliable in possession.
At the heart of the defence, Diego Carlos could be recalled to the starting XI after being given a rest as an unused substitute in the FA Cup.
The Brazilian enforcer has started ten Premier League games so far this season and won 57% of his individual duels, which shows that he has been solid in physical contests with opposition forwards.
On the left of the centre-back pairing, Emery could bring Pau Torres in. The Spaniard has returned to training ahead of the match and could be fit enough to start.
He has been crucial to how Villa build out from the back with his fantastic ability in possession. The former Villarreal star currently ranks within the top 13% of Premier League centre-backs for progressive passes (5.63) and the top 2% for progressive carries (1.84) per 90 this season.
These statistics show that Torres is among the best in the division when it comes to progressing play through carries and passes, which could help the Villans to break down Everton’s defence.
At left-back, Alex Moreno could keep his place in the side as Lucas Digne remains unavailable to the head coach. The French full-back could make his comeback against Chelsea in the FA Cup towards the end of this month.
Moreno only has two Premier League starts to his name this term and Digne’s continued absence provides him with a huge opportunity to impress the manager.
In the middle of the park, Boubacar Kamara should start once again. He has made 16 appearances in the league this season and showcased his defensive skill with 3.4 tackles and interceptions per game to cut out opposition attacks and win possession back for his team.
Alongside the French ace, Douglas Luiz should be brought back into the starting XI ahead of Leander Dendoncker, who started against Boro.
The Brazil international has been a star performer for the Villans in the Premier League so far this season and has started 19 games to date.
Luiz has contributed with six goals, three assists, and five ‘big chances’ created from a central midfield position and could be needed to make the difference this afternoon.
On the right of the attacking midfield trio, Moussa Diaby could be brought back into the XI ahead of Leon Bailey – who started against Middlesbrough.
The French whiz scored in his last start – against Burnley – and has racked up four goals, four assists, and seven ‘big chances’ created in 16 top-flight starts.
Bailey, who failed to score or assist against Boro, has one goal in his last six appearances in all competitions and could drop out of the side for this clash.
Diaby, who was once hailed as “outstanding” by journalist Josh Bunting, could look to use his electric pace to cause Vitaliy Mykolenko constant problems down the flank, in the hope of adding to his tally of goals and assists since his summer move from Bayer Leverkusen.
Another player who could keep their place in the side is captain John McGinn, who has started all 20 of the club’s Premier League games this season.
The Scotland international will be looking to add to his return of five goals, two assists, and seven ‘big chances’ for the Villans so far this term.
Emery could keep faith with academy graduate Jacob Ramsey on the left of the attacking midfield trident after his impressive showing against Middlesbrough.
The England U21 international played the full 90 minutes on the left flank and caught the eye with his play in and out of possession for the Villans.
He completed 91% of his attempted passes and created three chances for his teammates, which shows that the forward took risks on the ball to make things happen whilst still being reliable.
Ramsey also kept working hard to win the ball back for his side with four tackles, one block, and one clearance, which shows that he has the quality to make an impact in and out of possession.
Finally, Ollie Watkins should be unleashed at the top end of the pitch ahead of Colombia international Jhon Duran, who started against Middlesbrough.
23/24 Premier League
Big chances created
As you can see in the table above, the England international is evidently the superior option for Villa at this moment in time and should start if fit and available.
Therefore, Emery should ditch Duran after his outing in the cup and revert to his star attacker for this clash with Everton at Goodison Park today.