No I am not talking about this season (although the way we have started under Roberto Martinez, you never know), I am talking about our win at Villa Park in 2005, the day Everton convinced me and 3,000 thousand travelling Evertonians that the team had the necessary ability to secure the 4th place league finish and Champions League football.
26th February 2005 was arguably the greatest Everton away performance of the David Moyes era. Cahill, Osman and the recently recruited Mikel Arteta ripped Villa apart that day, playing breath-taking football to end an 18 year Villa Park hoodoo. The 3-1 scoreline flattered Villa, who deserved nothing from the game. Cahill and Osman twice were the goal scorers, on a day that will live long in the memory.
Unfortunately since that day our record at Villa has at best been poor. Last season’s win over Villa was only the third victory in 25 years at Villa Park, but the positive start Everton have made to this season will ensure the Blues go into the game with a good chance of three points.
The returning Steven Pienaar will give Everton a huge lift and his ability to bring other important players into the game will certainly improve further the quality of Everton’s performances. Leon Osman would appear most at risk, with Pienaar likely to come in on the left hand side of the Everton midfield. The rest of the team is likely to be unchanged, unless the Blues suffer any last-minute injury concerns.
Predicted starting team: Howard; Baines, Coleman, Distin, Jagielka; Barry, McCarthy, Barkley; Pienaar, Mirallas, Lukaku