How many goals have Villa scored this season?
We all knew that this would be a tough match, but I doubt any of us expected what we saw today. Everton came out with strong pressure and almost immediately took a lead that they wouldn't relinquish. Steven Pienaar hit a beautiful shot in the third minute to make it 0-1 to the Toffees. After that, Villa were kept solidly in their own half and could not create a chance to save themselves.
In the thirty-first minute, Marouane Fellaini headed in a cross from Phil Jagielka to make it 0-2. The ball wasn't that well-struck and the fault for the goal lies squarely in the hands of Shay Given. Given looked a lot like the Shay that we saw playing for Ireland in Euro, and it may be time to see some more Brad Guzan for Aston Villa.
By the time Everton scored their third (and final) goal in the 44th minute, Villa had yet to take a shot. That's how lopsided the first half was. Nikica Jelavic was the scorer this time, and I think it can be chalked up to both defense and Given. Villa finally took their first shot in stoppage time, but it wasn't anything about which Everton should have been worried. In the first half, Aston Villa only managed one shot and 37% possession. Oddly, it might have been worse than it looks. The team was booed off the pitch as they headed into the tunnel.
The second half was a little better, but it's hard to tell how much of that was due to better play by the home side and how much was Everton just coasting to an obvious win. Ciaran Clark was sent off in the 58th minute on the weakest foul I may have ever seen. There was contact, but it looked more incidental than anything else. When VIlla got down to 10 men, though, they played their best football of the day. From that point forward, it seemed as if Villa might actually be a competent football team.
In the 75th minute, Karim El Ahmadi scored from about 30 yards out. At that point, my feed had died so I didn't see the goal, but reaction on twitter and in the match thread seem to indicate it was wonderful. Hooray for that. Andreas Weimann was unlucky when he hit a screaming shot just off the woodwork in the 90th minute, and from that point forward, Villa wouldn't threaten.
This post is vaguely optimistic sounding, but that's most because I don't write rage well. All-in-all this was one of the worst performances we've seen Villa put together in a while. The 1-3 score line is flattering to Villa. Had Everton pressed a bit more, they would have surely netted enough to make this even more laughable. Villa clearly need help in creativity (side note: Charles N'Zogbia [who said he wanted to be more creative] was a pile of dung today), and something clearly must happen before the transfer window closes.
It's hard to see much to like right now, but it's important to remember that we've only played 2 matches and still have 36 to go. Every team loses two matches at some point. It'll be interesting to see if VIlla can rebound at all or if things have started badly enough to send the team in a downward spiral.