By Graham Hill
VILLA boss Dean Smith says his side must ‘solve the equation’ of a cracking a watertight Everton defence on Friday night.
Smith desperately needs goals as Villa search for their first win back in the Premier League.
But while Villa have let in five goals so far, Everton have conceded none and their record is 10 clean sheets from their last 12 games going back to last season.
Smith accepts that he has to find something special to break down Marco Silva’s side.
On paper, it looks as though he will name an unchanged side. Despite two defeats, the performances have been encouraging.
One player who might be looking over his shoulder is Anwar El-Ghazi – with Jota waiting in the wings.
But Smith maintains the performances have been good, while Villa are paying for mistakes.
Smith told reporters ahead of the Everton game: “I think some of the patterns we’ve worked on have been good.
“I was disappointed with the last half-hour at Tottenham, that’s been the biggest disappointment so far.
“We sat off them and stayed in our own half for half-an-hour. Against a quality team, you are going to suffer.
“When we have got on the front foot and pushed the opposition high, been a bit braver on the ball, we have caused teams problems. We caused Bournemouth problems last week and Eddie was very complimentary after.
“We certainly need to eradicate mistakes. Last week we conceded a penalty and a soft goal from 30 yards. Jack Grealish has been caught on the ball deep in his own half against Tottenham, Tom has rushed out and given a penalty away. Douglas has let one run when he shouldn’t. Tyrone has probably turned half his back and deflected one in. If we eradicate those mistakes we have points on the board. It is as simple as that, really.”
And Smith needs no reminding about the task facing them against Everton.
He added: “Their defensive record’s very good. That’s a tactical equation we have to come up with. I believe we have the quality to do that and hopefully we can.”
Smith says the chinks in Everton’s armour are tough to find.
The Villa boss said: “There’ve not been too many, with the clean sheets they’ve been getting. But there’ve been some elements where we believe we can create opportunities. That’lll be down to us to execute.”