Everton and Aston Villa meet for the 219th time as the most frequently played meeting in England gets another airing, but the visitors need to drastically improve if they are to ensure that it will take place again next season.
The two sides are tied at 80 wins each in all competitions, with the Toffees favourites to edge ahead in that tally by Saturday evening. Roberto Martinez’s side are unbeaten in their last two Premier League matches, but are struggling at Goodison Park – they have won just two of their last eight home games.
Romelu Lukaku is one short of reaching 50 Premier League goals; if he manages it, he will be the fifth player to hit that milestone before turning 23 – joining Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo on that particular elite list.
Villa picked up an encouraging point in Remi Garde’s first game in charge at home to Manchester City, and the Frenchman faces another difficult task at Goodison as he aims to turn his new club’s fortunes around.
The aforementioned draw against City last time out was Villa’s first point since August – the Midlands club are still rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and haven’t won in the blue half of Merseyside since 2008, when Ashley Young’s last-minute winner secured a 3-2 win.
Tom Cleverley scored the winner for Villa in this fixture last season, but the England international is now on the opposition side and could return this weekend after a lengthy lay-off.
Also back in the fold for the hosts is Leighton Baines, who could appear for the first time this season.
For Villa, defender Jordan Amavi picked up a season-ending injury on international duty with France Under-21s, whilst strikers Rudy Gestede and Gabby Agbonlahor are both doubts.
League Position: Everton – 9th (17 pts); Aston Villa – 20th (5 pts)
Last Meeting: Aston Villa 3-2 Everton (May 2, 2015)
Key Players: Everton – Romelu Lukaku; Aston Villa – Jack Grealish
Form: Everton – WWLLDW; Aston Villa – LLLLLD
Shoot Says: Everton 2-1 Aston Villa