By Joe Roberts

17th Aug, 2023 | 12:57pm

Leon Bailey axed by Unai Emery in two changes - Aston Villa predicted XI v Everton

Unai Emery could make two changes to his Aston Villa starting lineup as the Villans face Everton in their second Premier League match of the season.

Aston Villa look to bounce back following their nightmare start to the Premier League campaign in their 5-1 loss to Newcastle which left them at the foot of the table.

The club have huge expectations this year and the Villa Park faithful will expect a significant reaction against Sean Dyche’s side as they bid to challenge for more European football this season.

Despite a poor performance, including getting a yellow card for a tackle outside his penalty box, Emi Martinez has more than enough cache with Emery to remain in between the sticks. While he did make seven saves [Premier League], he did concede five goals, which is disappointing considering Newcastle’s 3.82 xG [The xG Philosophy].

The centre-back partnership has been torn apart by the unfortunate news of Tyrone Mings’ injury. The Guardian reported (14 August) that Mings may miss the rest of the season in yet another massive injury blow for Villa following Emi Buendia’s knee ligament injury.

In his place comes new signing Pau Torres who is set to make his first Premier League start. The Spaniard replaced Mings at the half and hour mark at St James Park and while he may want to forget his Villa debut, his three progressive carries and three progressive passes [FBRef] have shown fans why he was bought.

He will partner Ezri Konsa in the middle of the defence, while Lucas Digne and Matty Cash remain at full-back. Digne could prove important in Villa’s attack against Everton, making eight crosses against Newcastle and holding possession across the flank. [SofaScore]

Cash meanwhile will be needed to keep the likes of Alex Iwobi quiet, with the Polish international finding himself averaging 2.66 tackles per 90 (85th percentile). [FBRef]

Further up the pitch, the midfield partnership of Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara will again remain. They formed a solid partnership at the base of Villa’s midfield last season and Emery looks to keep it that way. Together, the pair got a combined 131 tackles across the season [FBRef], while Luiz earned six goals and six assists. [FBRef]

This partnership will need to continue if Villa are to continue as well as they ended last season. Just ahead of them, we have predicted a first Villa start for Youri Tielemans. He replaced the disappointing Leon Bailey against Newcastle at halftime, and while he did not have an excellent performance, Emery may look to switch up the side following the poor performance.

The attacking trio will remain the same with Moussa Diaby, Ollie Watkins and captain John McGinn. Diaby got his first Premier League goal and was a rare highlight of last week’s defeat. He took his goal excellently and produced 0.3 expected goals and 0.3 expected [FBRef] assists highlighting that he can make a real impact when needed.

Diaby also got 66.7% of his three shots on target and will likely get many more chances against Everton than Newcastle, meaning he could see himself on the score sheet once again.

Ollie Watkins will remain up top, There were glimpses of a good partnership being formed between the Englishman and Diaby against Newcastle and Emery will hope to develop this across the season. Watkins got the assist for Diaby’s goal last weekend to show Villa fans the partnership’s early bloom.

The 27-year-old, according to SofaScore, spent a lot of time in the opposition box and will hope to capitalise on his time here against Everton and boost his shooting numbers.

In other Aston Villa news, a Sky Sports pundit has shared an update on the Villans’ latest transfer.