Unai Emery had his sights set on reaching the top of the Premier League alongside Liverpool, but Aston Villa was unable to capitalize on the opportunity during a lackluster match at Goodison Park. Despite a great goal from Alex Moreno being overturned after a lengthy VAR review, Villa’s usual control and precision on their home field was noticeably absent during their away game. This was not the display of a team vying for the title.
In the 2121-2122 season, Everton earned a deserved point after experiencing three consecutive losses in the league. th
The latest installment of the most popular match in English football took place. Just before the end of the first half, Sean Dyche’s team had a great opportunity to take the lead, but Emiliano Martínez stopped Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s one-on-one attempt.
After withstanding a strong start from Everton, Villa dominated the first half thanks to the performances of Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara in midfield. Their efforts paid off when Alex Moreno scored a beautiful goal, placing the ball perfectly into the bottom left corner of Jordan Pickford’s goal after a clever short-corner play between Luiz and Leon Bailey caught Everton off guard. Bailey may have appeared offside when passing to John McGinn, who then set up Moreno on the edge of the box. Four minutes later, VAR confirmed what was already obvious to the viewers.
VAR took an excessive amount of time to reject the goal, as they reviewed both Bailey’s offside and the potential foul by Lenglet on Danjuma during their struggle at the corner. Villa supporters expressed their frustration with the frustrating break in the game by chanting “VAR is terrible”. This highlights the detrimental impact of the technology on the sport, especially for fans attending the match, as even Everton fans joined in on the chant when their team benefited from it.
Villa had several chances to score as the opposing team defended deeper. Moussa Diaby passed the ball to Ollie Watkins, who made a run towards the goal, but his shot was stopped by Pickford’s legs. Pickford also made a brilliant save to redirect Bailey’s quick shot towards the lower corner.
Calvert-Lewin had Everton’s best chance in the first half. He was set up by a perfect pass from Danjuma, but he had gone 12 matches without scoring and felt the pressure as he made his way towards Martínez. The goalkeeper, a World Cup winner, stood his ground and blocked Calvert-Lewin’s low shot. He then made an even better save by tipping James Garner’s follow-up shot around the post. This was Calvert-Lewin’s only opportunity to break his goal drought. He was substituted for Beto just after the hour mark in an attempt by Dyche to bring more intensity and presence to Everton’s attack, which was much needed.
The second half was uneventful in comparison. Both teams showed dedication and hard work, but there were very few noteworthy moments, except for a short altercation when James Tarkowski took out Moreno while also winning the ball with a strong challenge. Lenglet and the Everton center-half were both shown yellow cards for their involvement in the pushing and shoving that followed. Tarkowski also made a strong tackle on Diaby in the Everton box, but neither the referee David Coote nor VAR saw it as a penalty.
Villa had a strong chance to spark the excitement and secure a victory in the final moments. Backup player Matty Cash appeared to have a scoring opportunity with five minutes left in regular time when Moreno passed a low cross from the left. However, Vitaliy Mykolenko, who had sustained a head injury from colliding with Tarkowski, bravely threw himself in front of Cash’s shot from eight yards out and made a superb block. The ball then bounced to McGinn, but his attempt was also deflected by a blue shirt before Séamus Coleman cleared it away.
Before the start of the game, a large banner featuring Coleman was hung up at the Gwladys Street end. It read “15 years of Seamus”, commemorating the 35-year-old’s record-breaking 355th appearance for Everton in the Premier League.th
This outing was a remarkable accomplishment for a highly valued player and one of the most strategic transfers in Premier League history. Though the event may not be remembered for long, it could have had a different outcome if substitute Jhon Durán had directed Cash’s cross into the far post. Unfortunately, he narrowly missed and, for the first time in his 97 Premier League matches, Emery oversaw a scoreless draw.