Two Merseyside legends clash at Goodison Park as Steven Gerrard brings his Aston Villa side to face Duncan Ferguson's Everton
Everton begin life after Rafa Benitez at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon, as Aston Villa provide the opposition looking for their first win in five games.
Duncan Ferguson will once again pick up the pieces in the blue half of Merseyside, just as he did when Marco Silva was sacked back in 2019. On that occasion, the former Scotland international went unbeaten in his four games in the hot seat, winning one and drawing three.
Aston Villa have of course also recently saw a managerial change, with Steven Gerrard taking the reigns from Dean Smith. Motivation won’t be a problem for the Liverpool legend when he walks out at Goodison, especially with Ferguson, who he played against while at Liverpool, in the opposing dugout.
Speaking of familiar faces, Lucas Digne will return to Goodison in his new colours, having been one of the casualties of the Benitez era.
The French left-back joined Villa just three days before Rafa was sacked, and will be set for a welcome return from the fans who seemingly didn’t want him to leave at all. Digne was actually on the score sheet when the sides met earlier this season, netting an own goal as Villa cruised to a 3-0 win.
His replacement at Everton, Vitaliy Mykolenko, will hope to continue at left-back after a shaky game at Norwich last week, but midfield trio Allan, Tom Davies and Alex Iwobi are all out through injury. Jarrad Branthwaite and Fabian Delph are rated at 50/50 and a late fitness test will determine whether they make the squad or not.
As for Aston Villa, reports linking Luis Suarez with a reunion with Steven Gerrard have been doing the rounds this week, fresh off the back of Philippe Coutinho reuniting with his old team mate and making an instant impact last weekend. The Brazilian Barcelona loanee scored a late equaliser against Manchester United, and will be hoping to force his way into the starting XI this week.
Two names that won’t make it are Marvelous Nakamba and Leon Bailey, who are both out injured. Ezri Konsa went off prematurely last week and faces a late fitness test, but John McGinn is back after suspension. Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet are both on international duty at the African Cup of Nations, with Egypt and Burkina Faso both progressing to the knockout stages.
A lot has changed since the sides met earlier this season, when Villa ran out 3-0 winners. Both managers have departed, the scorer of the second goal Lucas Digne now plays for the other team, and another of the goal scorers, Matty Cash, is a Polish international. Don’t you just love how football works?
Everton take on Aston Villa at Goodison Park on Saturday, January 22nd. Kick-off is at 12.30pm.