Aston Villa head to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday in what promises to be a difficult challenge for Unai Emery and the players.
Villa will be looking to end a three-game losing streak, while in contrast, the hosts will be buoyed by winning two of their last three Premier League outings since Sean Dyche took charge.
READ MORE: Emery provides fresh assessment of Villa youngster, happy with balance in options
With the home faithful firmly behind their players, it will be a tough environment and game to manage and control, but Emery will be looking for exactly that this weekend after being left frustrated and disappointed following our defeat to Arsenal last time out.
While we’ve now conceded 11 goals in our last three league games, the Spaniard has emphasised the importance of exerting control over proceedings over the course of 90 minutes, and given our impressive record away from home under him thus far, he’ll be hoping that we can get back to that level of performance on Saturday.
He does have important decisions to make though ahead of kick-off, as although we shipped four goals to Arsenal and suffered another loss, there were many positives too having made changes to the starting XI.
Ramsey in for Coutinho, Emery to stick with previous changes?
Speaking to VillaTV this week, Emi Martinez called for a positive reaction against Everton this weekend, while conceding that although the players know that ‘it’s going to be a war’, they’re very much ready for it.
With that in mind, Emery could be tempted into making at least one change with Jacob Ramsey coming in for Philippe Coutinho.
Having made a positive impact last weekend, it seems a shame to see the Brazilian back on the bench and unable to build on that immediately, but with Ramsey’s energy and ability to get about the pitch quickly both in and out of possession, it could be a crucial element of our game especially on the road in a difficult atmosphere.
Coutinho’s quality could make a difference in the latter stages if needed to unlock Everton, but the home side will no doubt be keen to avoid giving us any time on the ball to create in the final third, and the Brazilian could struggle.
For similar reasons, it could be wise to stick with Matty Cash and Alex Moreno in the full-back positions, as they do add energy, pace and tenacity in what could turn out to be a real battle.
That’s not to say Ashley Young and Lucas Digne wouldn’t be up for the scrap, but after impressing last time out and grabbing an assist apiece too, that duo could be preferable for this one as well.
After returning to the Villa XI against Arsenal, it’s hoped John McGinn is able to get back to his influential best as he builds his match fitness back up, and so having him operate on the right side and try to give us a foothold and control in midfield with his aggressive, all-action style, will be vital alongside Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz.
Elsewhere, Leon Bailey will be in contention to start but again, having Emiliano Buendia’s work ethic and tenacity in the opposition half alongside Ollie Watkins to press and apply pressure higher up the pitch will be crucial, and so it just feels as though the Villa XI below would give us the best balance and batting qualities to compete in this game and hopefully show enough quality to get all three points.