Gary Neville had warned Everton that Aston Villa will be a ‘hard’ test for them on Saturday because they also have ‘aspirations’ of wanting to finish in the top-six, as he told Sky Sports (13/09/21 at 10:20 pm).
The most played top-flight fixture in English football – Villa v Everton – will be on show once again at the weekend.
Both clubs are historical clubs in England’s top-flight but will feel, for a long time now, they have underachieved given their rich history.
Everton travel to Villa Park, unbeaten and sitting in the top-four, whilst Dean Smith’s men have lost two of their four matches, including last time out to Chelsea.
Despite that, Neville still thinks Rafa Benitez’s side will get ‘a measure’ of where they are when they visit the Midlands.
“I think it was critical he (Benitez) got off to a good start,” said Neville. “But both of us (Neville and Carragher) said a couple of weeks ago that Rafa Benitez would do well.
“He’s a good coach. He gets results and he knows what to do. He knows how to manage players.
“You look at those fixtures, look Villa are a good team. Villa, to be fair, away will be a hard game, so that will be a very good measure of where Everton are.
“Villa will have aspirations to get right up towards that top-six and top-eight if they can. That’s where they will want to be. And Everton will be thinking the same. That will be a good one, in terms of that next game.”
From Villa’s perspective, it has been a bit of a chaotic start with injuries and COVID issues affecting the players.
It’s meant that, before the international break, Smith couldn’t play his strongest XI, nor some of his key men or summer signings, such as Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins.
But now they are back to full fitness and ready to unleash their talents.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if it’s an end-to-end affair on Saturday because both teams will be looking for the three points.