Aston Villa miss chance to draw level with league leaders Liverpool
LONDON – Aston Villa missed the chance to go level on points with English Premier League leaders Liverpool after they were held to a 0-0 draw by the Reds’ local rivals Everton on Jan 14.
The Villans may be flying high in the league table – sitting third on 43 points, two behind Liverpool and level with champions Manchester City – but the Toffees had the best chance of the match in first-half added time at Goodison Park.
Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin was put through on goal with just Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to beat after a lovely outside-foot through ball by Arnaut Danjuma, but his shot was well saved by the leg of the Argentinian World Cup-winning goalkeeper.
The 26-year-old, who has four goals in 21 games in all competitions this season and seven over the last two seasons, has now failed to score in 13 matches, his longest goal-less run since joining Everton from Sheffield United in 2016.
Former Everton stalwart Leon Osman said on the BBC: “When you have a striker full of confidence and they go through on goal with that amount of time, there’s an expectation.
“I don’t think there was a real confidence in the ground that Dominic Calvert-Lewin would score.”
Straight after that chance, Martinez repelled James Garner’s shot from outside the box.
Earlier in the first half, Villa had the ball in the net, but it was disallowed for offside.
Left-back Alex Moreno thought he had opened the scoring in the 18th minute, when his well-struck shot from outside the box found the corner of Jordan Pickford’s net, but it was ruled out as Leon Bailey was offside. In truth, the goal would likely have been chalked off even if not for that offside as Clement Lenglet hauled Danjuma down inside the box.
Everton vice-captain James Tarkowski told the BBC: “We played OK... I’m just glad it’s (the VAR decision) gone our way. Not many have gone our way this season. We had the best opportunity with Dominic’s.
“We are still building and working towards where we want to be. The 10-point penalty is there. We have carried on playing and our job is to keep putting points on the board.”
Villa had another good chance in the 28th minute, when a well-worked move saw Bailey’s shot from inside the box expertly foiled by England’s No. 1 Pickford.
Unai Emery’s side had a chance to clinch all three points late on twice. First, Matty Cash’s shot from Moreno’s cross was blocked by Vitaliy Mykolenko, before teammate Seamus Coleman denied John McGinn from the follow-up in the 85th minute.
The Toffees’ Irish captain was making his 355th Premier League appearance, making him the club’s record holder, ahead of former goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Then, two minutes later, substitute Jhon Duran’s flicked finish from Cash’s cross went agonisingly wide of Everton’s goal.
But two minutes from time, Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure had the ball in the net but Villa’s famed high defensive line caught him offside.
In the end, it proved to be Emery’s first 0-0 draw after 97 Premier League matches.
He told Sky Sports: “I am really, really happy with 43 points after game day 21. The match we played today, the 90 minutes, are like we prepared before and we respected them.
“We tried to put out our game plan. We conceded a few chances from them, the first half was clear and were big mistakes. But we need a big goalkeeper and he saved us. The second half, we gave them nothing and had three or four good chances to score.”
The result sees Everton one point outside the relegation zone on 17 points from 21 games, one more than promoted Luton Town, who have played one match fewer.
Aston Villa miss chance to draw level with league leaders Liverpool. (n.d.). The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/football/aston-villa-miss-chance-to-draw-level-with-league-leaders-liverpool