English Premier League

Everton 0-0 Aston Villa

Everton 0-0 Aston Villa. Aston Villa missed the chance to move level on points with Premier League pace-setters Liverpool as they were forced to settle for a draw in a scrappy, low-quality encounter with Everton at Goodison Park.

In the first goalless draw in manager Unai Emery’s 97 top-flight games with Arsenal and Villa, his side could not produce the decisive moment to enable them to overhaul Manchester City and move into second place.

Villa thought they had taken a first-half lead when Alex Moreno rifled a 25-yard finish past Everton keeper Jordan Pickford but the goal was ruled out for offside after a four-minute video assistant referee (VAR) check.

Everton had chances of their own before the break but the struggling Dominic Calvert-Lewin could not beat Emi Martinez after racing clear, the Villa keeper then producing a superb save from James Garner.

Villa pressed after the interval, with Jhon Duran coming close, but this very poor game eventually fizzled out into a draw.

Everton remain 17th, one point above the relegation zone.

Everton’s lack of a goalscoring spearhead has been a constant source of concern but it was hoped the return to fitness of England striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin after a couple of injury-plagued seasons would provide the answer.

He showed signs of promise on his return earlier this season but has been suffering a barren spell. This was his 13th game without a goal and he was replaced by Beto after 63 minutes.

Calvert-Lewin last scored in the win at West Ham United in October and his lack of confidence was painfully illustrated when he missed the best chance Everton carved out just before half-time.

He raced clear with time and space, and with only Martinez to beat, but he never looked convincing and his finish was kept out by the Villa keeper.

Calvert-Lewin is not short of endeavour but he is struggling badly. Everton will need him to pull out of the slump quickly as more goals will be a crucial commodity in their fight for Premier League survival. It may not be long before manager Sean Dyche is tempted to give £25m signing Beto an extended run.

Elsewhere, it was a landmark day for Everton’s 35-year-old captain Seamus Coleman, who established a club record by making his 355th Premier League appearance.

Coleman has been a magnificent servant for Everton since he was signed for £60,000 from Sligo Rovers in January 2009. The right-back’s subsequent career has been an outstanding example of professionalism – and money well spent.

Aston Villa may feel a draw at Goodison Park against this well-drilled Everton side is not an unacceptable outcome but in reality they should have claimed all three points.

They were denied Moreno’s first-half strike by VAR and while Everton had Calvert-Lewin’s big chance late in the first half, it was Villa doing all the pressing after half-time.

John McGinn was narrowly wide from the edge of the area, Everton defender Vitaliy Mykolenko made a crucial block from Matty Cash, while Duran’s late glance went narrowly wide of the far post.

In the end, deadlock was the outcome and Everton will probably be happier with that conclusion than Villa.

It was only the third time this season that Villa have failed to score in the Premier League, the other occasions being defeats at Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Emery’s proud record of never having a goalless draw as a Premier League manager is over. And this was just the type of undistinguished game that deserved to end it.

source – BBC

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