Bookie Preview vs Aston Villa

The late departure of Mikel Arteta is a blow and many fans will be concerned with seeing only two senior players added to a squad which has been thinned even further over the summer.

Yobo, Beckford, Yakubu and Vaughan may not be massive losses individually but it’s a slimming of already slim pickings. At least Rodwell, Fellaini and Jagielka were kept out of the clutches of more financially liquid clubs.

Arteta aside, what has been lost in quantity may have been regained in quality. Royston Drenthe’s career has stuttered at the Bernabeu but the Dutch winger had a good spell, on the pitch, with Hercules last season and he has the potential to be a star player for Moyes. His pace is a massive asset, as is his ability to slot comfortably into the full-back position and he’ll be keen to prove himself in the most high-profile league in the world. Fellow newboy Denis Stracqualursi is more of an unknown quantity but he scored a lot of goals for a struggling Tigres side last season and he’s been making all the right noises in the press. Whether he can adapt quickly or not only time will tell but he’s good in the air, can hold up play and has a decent turn of pace. He may arrive with little fanfare but the fact that Beckford and Yakubu have been allowed to leave tells us that Moyes is confident he’ll be able to do the business in the Premier League.

So on to this weekend’s game. Aston Villa have gotten off to a good start under new boss Alec McLeish but the possible loss of Darren Bent for their trip to Goodison Park is a blow. Everton won’t give up too many chances at home and without Bent, Villa just aren’t that potent up front. Shay Given is proving a great signing but he played through Ireland’s Euro qualifiers with an injury and he could still be struggling on Saturday. Richard Dunne put his body on the line on that hard artificial Russian pitch so he could also be feeling the effects of his efforts.

Despite the losses in personnel, Moyes has a near full squad to choose from and though there was a touch of fortune with the penalties, the manner of victory against Blackburn will have a positive effect on morale, especially after the disappointment of the opening game. How much the Arteta loss counteracts that we wait to see.

This is a game Moyes will be targeting for a win at 11/10 and though Arteta is gone, Tim Cahill is back fit and should be ready to start. He was left out of the Australian starting line-up midweek so he should be well rested and at 6/1 to score first is a good bet. Louis Saha is yet to succumb to the fragility of his body and his pace could prove a problem for the Villa backline. The Frenchman is also 6/1 to score first. As is new signing Stracqualursi, with Drenthe a more profitable 14/1. Of the two, the Dutchman is the more likely to start.

There have been a lot of draws, four of the last five, between these two sides over the years, with 2-2 being especially popular. A repeat of that scoreline is 13/1, though Everton to win 2-1 at 15/2 is a more optimistic choice.

Given Alec McLeish’s style of management this is likely to be a very competitive affair but if there’s one thing David Moyes’ sides love is a battle. With Cahill back in the team and perhaps some debut inspiration from Drenthe, Everton to win at 11/10 is the way to go.

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