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Premier League: Everton eye top spot at away to Villa

Everton are yet to concede a goal this season. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Aston Villa vs Everton
Villa Park, Birmingham
Friday, 23-08-2019 @10pm
Referee: Michael Oliver

This is the most-played league fixture in England. Friday marks their 203rd league encounter – all in the top flight – with Everton leading Aston Villa by 76 wins to 73. Everton have scored two goals or more in eight successive Premier League meetings – a club record run against the same opponent. Villa’s only win in their 11 most recent league matches against Everton was 3-2 at home in May 2015.

Aston Villa defender Kortney Hause is fit again, leaving Jonathan Kodjia and James Chester as the only absentees. Midfielder Marvelous Nakamba and full-backs Frederic Guilbert and Matt Targett await their debuts.

Everton left-back Lucas Digne has overcome a hamstring problem, while Leighton Baines could feature after recovering from a thigh injury sustained in pre-season. Fabian Delph remains out but Morgan Schneiderlin is available after a ban.

What the coaches are saying

Dean Smith, Aston Villa

“We’re creating chances, we just need to start taking them.

“There’s certainly no frustration with [forward] Wesley from me or his team-mates. He brings other people into play and he’s getting better and better.

“We’re two games into the season. He’s one goal behind Mo Salah at the moment – I’m not judging center-forwards this early in the season.”

Marco Silva, Everton

“A win would be good but we have to prove we are able to do that.

“Afterwards we will see the result and if we get to the top. In our minds we just have to respect them [Villa] and go there with desire and commitment to win.”

Aston Villa have only once started a Premier League season with more than two successive defeats – a run of four in 1997-98. They have lost 14 of their past 15 Premier League games, drawing the other one against Newcastle. It’s the second-longest winless run in the club’s top-flight history, four behind their unwanted record. Their most recent top-flight win came against Norwich at Villa Park in February 2016.

Everton have gone unbeaten in their opening two Premier League fixtures for the last eight campaigns. They are vying to start a season with three successive top-flight clean sheets for the first time since 1912. Everton’s tally of 12 Premier League clean sheets in 2019 is second only to Manchester City’s 13.

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