VERDICT: Villa 2, Everton 0

By Graham Hill

THIS was the moment that Villa showed they belong back in the top flight.

A win over Everton said so much more than the 2-0 scoreline – although there were a few scares near the end.

Marco Silva’s side arrived with a fearsome reputation for giving nothing away at the back.

Only Manchester City had recorded more clean sheets than Everton in this calendar year.

So to break them down after only 21 minutes was huge. And, even better, it was fitting that Wesley was the man to do it.

Anyone who had doubts about the big striker only had to look at the way he took his goal to realise Villa’s record signing has the potential Dean Smith spoke about before the game.

The intelligence of the delayed pass from Jota and the perfect timing of Wesley’s run saw Villa outfox a supposedly tight Everton defensive unit.

From then on, Villa looked far from being a newly-promoted team – and one that was newly-formed in terms of personnel.

Jota’s introduction was a masterstroke and clearly Everton did not know how to handle him at times. It does make you wonder why an other Premier League team has not take a chance on him before now.

It also brought out the best in Anwar El Ghazi who was dropped to the bench only to come on and seal the points late on.

At the back, Villa looked solid although cracks did appear as Everton stepped it up near the end after Silva sent on Alex Iwobi and Moise Kean.

Tyrone Mings even shook off a groin injury suffered in the warm up to produce another inspired display – and his central defensive partner Bjorn Engels was again on top form.

But Smith’s decision to replace Ahmed Elmohamady with French full-back Freddie Guilbert also paid off.

The midfield three again looked accomplished with Douglas Luiz now warming to his place in the side.

But the only worrying aspect was the fact that there is no competition for Wesley’s place up front.

Smith has players pushing for selection in every other department but if Wesley had been taken off last night, the replacement would have been Keinan Davis with Jonathan Kodjia inured.

That is something Smith clearly needs to address in the January window and would have done before the deadline had Villa’s approaches come off.

It means £22million man Wesley is going to have to spearhead the attack for the first half of the season, but while he is still not quite the finished article, his confidence will grow after that goal.

But the other factor was the crowd – and the noise!

There is a fervour among the supporters about Villa right now – something that emerged towards the end of last season when Jack Grealish returned to the side and steered them to promotion.

Villa’s return to the Premier League has been like an unexpected gift for fans. Even as recently as last March, a chance to get back among the elite seemed only a faint possibility.

The momentum has been building since then and what you have now is a deafening cacophony at Villa Park.

That sort of support is going to affect the oppostion all season as long as results like this keep coming.

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