PORTLAND, OR - JULY 24: Karim El Ahmadi #8 of Aston Villa dribbles the ball against the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on July 24, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
OVERALL: 0-0-1, -1 GD
LAST 5: L- - - -
STARTING XI: Shay Given, Ciaran Clark, Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker, Matthew Lowton, Chris Herd, Karim El Ahmadi, BARRY BANNAN, Charles N'Zogbia, Darren Bent, Nathan Delfonueso
SUBS: Brad Guzan, Stephen Ireland, Fabian Delph, Eric Lichaj, Brett Holman, Andreas Weimman, Graham Burke
OVERALL: 1-0-0, +1 GD
LAST 5: W- - - -
STARTING XI: Tim Howard, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Phil Neville, Darron Gibson, Leon Osmon, Steven Pinaar, Steven Naismith, Nikica Jelavic, Marouane Fellaini
SUBS: I ran out of copy-paste steam and need coffee.
Okay, so the first game didn't go as well as we'd have liked. But there are still 37 to play. This is a tough one to be sure; Everton may very well be better than a lot of people thought, and most people thought they were pretty good. But this isn't a Villa team devoid of talent. They can play well. And despite the disappointment of last week's game, I'm expecting Villa Park to be louder than it has been in far too long.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
- Maraoune Fellaini. Dear god, Maraoune Fellaini.
- Villa's wing play. It has to be better.
- Is Darren Ben dropping deeper? Could signal an interesting tactical tweak.
- Everton's defensive pressure in midfield. From my perspective, the heavier the better.