Aston Villa secured a much-needed win over Everton on Saturday, as we ended a disappointing losing streak and got ourselves back on track.
Goals from Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Buendia sealed all three points on Merseyside, as after a battling and scrappy performance for the most part, we showed quality in key moments at both ends of the pitch and then did well to see out the game.
READ MORE: Villa player ratings vs Everton: Watkins, Buendia decisive in crucial win
Unai Emery was largely pleased with what he saw from his players in this one, but the Villa boss was keen to immediately stress his desire to see us produce this level of performance at home now as we continue to search for consistency.
Villa continue to flirt with the idea of breaking into the top 10 in the Premier League standings, and with a winnable run of games ahead of us in the coming weeks, it’s hoped that we can now build on this victory and put another good run of form together to climb the table and show what we’re capable of.
Important clean sheet and win
After conceding 11 goals in our last three league outings, it was important that we shored things up defensively in this one and gave ourselves a foundation to go out and win the game.
While we rode our luck on occasion and needed a big save from Emiliano Martinez and a goal-line clearance from Tyrone Mings, Villa were resilient and organised in that phase of the game throughout and were committed right across the pitch.
Everton have picked up their home form since Sean Dyche took charge and the atmosphere was difficult to manage, but Villa stuck to it and got their rewards in the end with a much-improved defensive display.
Villa players stick to Emery game-plan
Emery wasn’t shy in expressing his disappointment and frustration last week with how we weren’t executing the game-plan that he had worked on during the week and how we lacked control in games.
During our bright start to the encounter, it was clear that Villa were being more patient and composed in possession, controlling the tempo and atmosphere before speeding our passing up in the final third to create openings.
Despite pressure from Everton in our half, we continued to play out from the back and although we did get sloppy and slightly chaotic up until our breakthrough, it’s important we stick to those principles and improve over time.
Watkins continues good run
That’s now five goals in five consecutive league games for Watkins, who showed great composure and confidence with his penalty to break the deadlock.
He praised Jordan Pickford for the brilliant save he made to deny him scoring earlier with a header, but the Villa talisman wasn’t to be denied as he continues to shine under Emery.
Not only does he look more confident in front of goal now and is getting into positions to be a real threat and get opportunities, but his hold-up play and role in our build up is so much better and it’s an important part of how we play.
Big Buendia impact off bench
It was a surprise to see Buendia on the bench as it was felt that we could have done with his tenacity and work-rate in a game that was likely to get scrappy.
However, the decision eventually paid off as he came on and made an instant impact in the second half with his pass to John McGinn who then won our penalty before the Argentine playmaker bagged a goal for himself to kill the game off.
It was a wonderful bit of play from Buendia to create space in the box for himself before firing in a top finish, and it’s hoped that he gets his place back next week and builds on this.
McGinn shows vital influence
It’s been a big boost having McGinn back in the midfield and he showed his quality in both phases of the game in this encounter.
Not only was he important in giving us a foothold in the game with his defensive work and ability to put himself about, but both he and Jacob Ramsey were key in breaking through Everton’s midfield by offering a bit of width and putting us in threatening positions.
He did well to win the decisive penalty, and then set Buendia through for the second after making one of those key runs where he drifted inside and offered support for Watkins. A crucial impact in our win.