Thursday 8 December 2016

Garde left with no illusions after Rom and Gerry show crushes Villa

Everton 4-0 Aston Villa

Richard Jolly

Published 22/11/2015 | 02:30

Everton’s Ross Barkley celebrates scoring his side’s third goal against Aston Villa
Everton’s Ross Barkley celebrates scoring his side’s third goal against Aston Villa
Ross Barkley of Everton scores his team's first goal
Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring his team's second goal

The last time Aston Villa suffered such a heavy defeat to Everton, they could at least console themselves with the knowledge they had been crowned champions of Europe three months earlier. The sight of Tony Morley nonchalantly rolling in a penalty in the half-time entertainment was a reminder that Villa were 1982's European Cup winners. Now they are reduced to making history of a different sort. The poorest start in their 141-year existence has got worse.

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If Remi Garde was under any illusions about the scale of the challenge he has taken on, he should not be now. Villa's last 12 outings have produced only two points, and the Frenchman's first defeat was cemented before the interval. "When you are 3-0 down at half-time, the game is over," he admitted. While Villa acquitted themselves commendably to secure a draw against Manchester City in Garde's debut, they capitulated here.

"We could have done much better," the Frenchman said. That amounted to an understatement. Villa should be grateful the substitute Kevin Mirallas did not add a fifth goal in a sparkling cameo. As it was, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku scored twice apiece for an elegantly rampant Everton side who are developing a taste for thrashings.

"Ten goals from open play in two games at home is quite remarkable," said their manager, Roberto Martinez.

Garde saw Everton illustrate the problems he inherited. Villa were anaemic in attack, where the loneliest of lone strikers, Jordan Ayew, was distanced from his team-mates, insipid in midfield and dismal in defence.

Indeed, Garde's troubles have mushroomed. Within half an hour, the absence of Villa's left-back Jordan Amavi, who has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury, assumed huge proportions. Amavi's deputy, Kieran Richardson, cut a hapless figure as he was subjected to trial by the tricky Gerard Deulofeu. It was a test he failed comprehensively. "Gerry has been at that level for many weeks," said Martinez.

Each of Everton's first four openings stemmed from their right flank. Two produced fine saves from Brad Guzan, denying Seamus Coleman and, brilliantly, Arouna Kone. The other two brought goals. The dazzling Deulofeu was the instigator of the first. After Guzan succeeded in parrying his shot, Barkley swept in the rebound. Everton continued to plough a productive path. Coleman delivered a right-wing cross that Lukaku met with a glancing header. His 50th Premier League goal was perfectly placed, and he joined a select band, with Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have reached that landmark before their 23rd birthday.

"It is an impressive list of elite footballers, and Rom fits into that group extremely well," said Martinez.

Barkley is still only 21. His second goal was as simple as his first, but each was proof of his predatory instincts. When Guzan was unable to cling on to the ball as he challenged Kone, it broke free for Barkley. It amounted to an open goal.

"The Premier League is very physically demanding, and in the first 45 minutes we couldn't answer," Garde said. "When you can't, you are in trouble."

If his side were marginally brighter after the break, Everton's fourth goal was as damning as any that preceded it. Martinez's men simply passed their way through the middle of the visitors' defence, the terrific trio of Deulofeu, Barkley and Lukaku combining for the Belgian to score his second. "That partnership between Rom and Gerry was very lively," said Martinez.

Everton could savour the Rom and Gerry show. For Villa, it was less of a cartoon and more of a horror film.

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