What a week. The start of our turn around fixtures have been clouded with contract talks and an injury!
First and foremost, I believe that Vlaar is going and to be honest, it seems he always had his mind set on that but even more so, I don’t like the idea of a player demanding double their wage or they leave (I’m taking truth in this since it is being rumoured that united will pay 80k a week). On the bright side, if the murmurs prove fact we will pocket a neat £12 million. This will be covered in a later post.
Secondly, Delph is out and the rumoured time frame is anywhere from 1 month to 3 months; there are positives and negatives in this. I believe the injury makes it more likely that he will sign a new contract with us and if that is the case, what is 3 months to 3 years? That is just my opinion though. The other positive is that we get to see other players attempt to step up and make their mark on the squad (stranger things have happened). But overall, this is a complete blow to the team as Delph offered a lot of stability, confidence and urgency on the ball. It is a big loss, but we need to take the positives where available.
Lastly, the silver lining. Grealish signed and is committed to us for the foreseeable future.
NOW TO THE PREVIEW
Every fan and his dog has their eye on this game being the one that proves if our team has progressed or not, so there is already a lot of pressure going into this and Lambert knows it. This week he has stated that the return of Benteke will enable the attacking prowess of Cleverly. We are also seeing the return of Gabby this week, which will give us that much needed pace and pressure on the ball up front. I actually think we will see Grealish start the game alongside Westwood, Cleverly and N’Zogbia with Weimann on the bench. Between the 4 of these, we should show a lot of control on the ball and a good threat going forward with the like of Benteke and Gabby ready to receive.
Our defence is once again riddled with injuries with both our main CB’s out. This begs the question of who will start with Baker? Clark or Okore? And the more important question is whether Baker will be able to uphold his good form with the absence of the elders guiding him?
Of course this game isn’t going to be an easy 90 minutes as Everton are in need of a turn around season themselves and we have a track record of being the providing team for such feats. Martinez will be relishing the potential appearance of Ross Barkley today. This is countered by the news that Stones is out for 3 months leaving them weaker at the back.
Everton are also struggling up front with Lukaku suffering with fitness this season, but this isn’t going to stop Martinez from playing him and risking a poor performance and another player injured.
As things stand, we are 3 points from 3rd place, so the table is still close and it’s not too optimistic to think we could be up there by the end of this weekend. Having said that, I think this will be a very exciting game with Everton trying to lift themselves from the bottom of the table and us trying to recapture the momentum we started the season with. Both teams have returning players from injuries and both teams have lost key players to injuries. If there was ever a fitting match, then this may be the one.
My predication is a 1-2 Villa. But this could easily go the other way if Everton get the first goal.