Aston Villa may have finally won a home match — and against Manchester City, no less — but that doesn’t mean the hosts will have an easy time containing Everton in their visit to Villa Park (10 am ET, watch live online via NBC Sports Live Extra).
The Villa’s three-match unbeaten run in the league was broken last weekend when Tottenham came to town, with Spurs walking away with a fairly straightforward 2-0 victory. At least Aston Villa can welcome back Christian Benteke, who came on as a sub last week but will start up top today. Perhaps surprisingly, Paul Lambert chooses to hand a second Premier League start to Aleksandar Tonev, who joins fellow attackers Benteke, Andreas Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor.
Everton, after a bit of a stuttering start to the season, must be thrilled by their current form, with four wins from their past five games. In fact, the only real blight in their copybook is the away loss to Manchester City, their only loss of the season. That puts the Toffees in seventh and, should other fixtures fall in their favor, able to move into the European positions at the end of the round. Romelu Lukaku takes his place up top for Everton, while Steven Pienaar, who came off the bench to score against Hull last weekend, gets his first start of the season.
This match is the most played fixture in England, but this year it takes on a unique twist: Villa-Everton becomes the Battle of the Belgians. Romelu Lukaku has four goals in six matches for the Toffees, as does the returning Benteke in league play. Which Belgian forward do you favor to pull ahead in the goalscoring race today?
Aston Villa starting XI: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Westwood, Weimann, Luna, Delph, Agbonlahor, Benteke, Tonev
Subs: Steer, Clark, El Ahmadi, Helenius, Sylla, Kozak, Lowton
Everton starting XI: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, Barkley, Pienaar, Lukaku
Subs: Joel, Jelavic, Oviedo, Deulofeu, Naismith, Osman, Stones