Everton vs Aston Villa has always been a classic encounter. The two teams have met each other on 224 occasions in their history.
The first meeting was all the way back in 1888 but few have been less eventful than the clash we saw on Thursday evening. The clubs have beaten each other on 82 occasions apiece but, with a 0-0 draw occurring at Villa Park, it seemed like neither wanted to take the lead in historical terms.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men tried hard to find a way to goal but Emi Martinez, so often the hero for the Villans, popped up with another top-class performance. The Argentine made five saves, four of which came from efforts inside the penalty area as Everton were denied regularly.
One of those stops came from the boot of Gylfi Sigurdsson, but despite his rather tame night in offensive areas, he wasn’t the worst Toffees player on the pitch.
That unfortunate ‘award’ has to go to Allan. The Brazilian has been like a pitbull terrier in the middle of the pitch for Everton this term but, with Abdoulaye Doucoure back in the side, he was disappointing.
The former Napoli man struggled with the pace and dynamism of Aston Villa’s midfield, being utterly dominated by the likes of John McGinn and Ross Barkley. Allan was desperately poor and, in contesting a whopping 16 ground duels throughout the contest, he only won four of them; a measly 25%.
The £70,000-per-week earner has added bite and steel to Ancelotti’s Everton side this term but he lacked the grit and determination we’ve seen so regularly from him in 2020/21. He was dribbled past on eight occasions, an alarming tally for someone who is usually so strong in the challenge. also committing four fouls during a performance which lacked discipline and authority.
For context, no player gave away more fouls than the 30-year-old, while his tally of zero interceptions summed up a dismal evening.
Everton’s midfield hasn’t exactly been their strongest point in recent weeks. Andre Gomes has also been weak from a defensive point of view, so Allan’s performance on Thursday is likely to leave the manager with steam coming out of his ears.
With Doucoure returning, the impetus should have been on their combative midfield to stem the flow of Villa’s energetic trio in central areas. Instead, the home side were allowed to dominate the midfield battle, with both Douglas Luiz and McGinn winning more than 50% of their duels.
Ancelotti will have to hope that Allan’s display at Villa Park was a mere blemish. They need him firing on all cylinders if they want to secure European football.