Preview: Everton vs. Aston Villa

Preview: Everton vs. Villa
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Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Everton and Aston Villa at Goodison Park as both teams seek to end three-game winless runs.

Aston Villa's voyage through the Premier League's elite continues on Saturday as they travel to Everton.

The trip to Goodison Park will mark a fifth game in succession against last season's top five for a Villa side who will be cursing the viciousness of their early fixtures.

Their run of horror began with an excellent victory over Liverpool, but three consecutive defeats have since brought their best-ever Premier League start to an end.

Nevertheless, Paul Lambert's men still remain in the top half of the table, seven places above an Everton side who have begun Roberto Martinez's second season in charge with alarming slowness.

The Toffees sit one spot above the relegation zone, having only won one of their opening seven games, and when Leighton Baines misses a penalty, it is a sign that things just aren't going your way.

The England left-back saw his 100% record from 14 top-flight spot kicks blemished a fortnight ago when David de Gea saved his effort on his way to inspiring Manchester United to a 2-1 success.

Martinez may hope that joyous international breaks for the likes of Scotland's Steven Naismith and Republic of Ireland's Aiden McGeady could prompt a change in fortune for his squad on the domestic front.

Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy both sat out Ireland's 1-1 draw in Germany on Tuesday, but are expected to be fit to take their usual places at right-back and central midfield respectively this weekend.

However, Kevin Mirallas is a major doubt, while John Stones and Ross Barkley are long-term absentees. Bryan Ovideo is stepping up his recovery from a broken leg and could be named among the substitutes.

Like Oviedo, Christian Benteke missed the World Cup this summer with a serious injury, but the Belgian striker should make his first start since rupturing his Achilles in March when Villa visit Merseyside.

Gabriel Agbonlahor has shaken off the illness which caused him to withdraw from the 2-0 loss to Manchester City, and so either Andreas Weimann or Charles N'Zogbia will make way to accommodate Benteke in an attack which will be looking to add to their four league goals against the division's worst defence.

Captain Ron Vlaar has still not managed to overcome a niggling muscle problem and therefore Nathan Baker will partner Philippe Senderos as Villa seek a first win over Everton in eight attempts.

Recent form

Everton: LDDLLW


Possible starting lineups

Everton: Howard; Coleman, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Barry, McCarthy; McGeady, Naismith, Pienaar; Lukaku

Villa: Guzan; Hutton, Senderos, Baker, Cissokho; Westwood, Cleverley, Delph; Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann

Sports Mole says: 2-2

Who will win Saturday's game between Everton and Aston Villa at Goodison Park?

Aston Villa
Aston Villa
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match against Aston Villa at Villa Park on October 4, 2014
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