After only managing to rescue a draw against West Brom last week thanks to a last-gasp equaliser from Keinan Davis, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith will be desperate to try and breathe new life into his team on Saturday night.
Villa take on Everton at Goodison Park in the late kick-off, and with the kind of disappointing run they’ve been on in recent weeks – they’ve won just once in their last eight Premier League games – Smith could really do with just making some bold calls and changes; starting with dropping Ross Barkley.
Villa podcaster Simon O’Regan slammed the 27-year-old’s recent performances last month, saying: “I think what’s sort of annoyed me as well over the last few weeks is Ross Barkley, and I’m not trying to single him out because I think he has been really heavily criticised more than he probably should have been, especially when other players haven’t exactly stepped up either.
“These last few weeks were a real opportunity I think for him to really shine and play his way into getting in a decent move and he hasn’t really done that.”
With Jacob Ramsey knocking on the door, and still only 19, surely it’s the perfect time for the Villa manager to be starting one of the club’s brightest young academy graduates.
Reports in recent weeks have suggested that Villa have already made the decision not to sign Barkley on a permanent basis. Given his form, and his likely future, there is absolutely no reason for Smith to persist with the woefully out-of-form midfielder.
The £18m-rated ace simply shouldn’t be starting against his former club Everton on Saturday night.