Nev Eyes End To Villa Run
24/08/2012 by Scott McLeod
Skipper keen for Blues' first victory at Villa Park since 2005.
Exorcising demons is the driving force for Everton as they seek to follow up their impressive opening day victory over Manchester United with a first win at Villa Park in eight attempts.
That is the message from skipper Phil Neville, who is adamant the thrilling 1-0 success against United will count for nothing if it cannot be built upon.
Indeed, whilst many neutrals regarded Everton's success against Sir Alex Ferguson's side as an upset, it didn't surprise a Goodison dressing room boasting a burgeoning sense of belief and will to win.
Neville told evertonfc.com: "On Monday we wanted to prove people wrong. We want to hit the ground running and we had a good victory on Monday night, but it's the old adage - if we don't get a result at Villa, it means nothing.
"Villa Park is one of my favourite away grounds and I don't think we've won there in the last seven games. It's a tough place to go for Everton. But I think we'll kick ourselves if we don't follow on the form we showed on Monday.
"Obviously when you beat a top team like Manchester United, it gives you confidence. There's been a buzz about the place this week and to be honest with you, we all had a feeling before the game that we had a chance of winning. We didn't see it as a fluke.
"Sometimes when a top team comes and you've not beaten them for a long time, you're surprised. But I think our form is good and we're a strong team - it's just about us showing that."
Maintaining the confidence - and form - from Monday will be crucial against a Villa camp rejuvenated by the arrival of new boss Paul Lambert.
Saturday will be the Villa Park faithful's first opportunity to see Lambert's charges in Barclays Premier League action this term. That should ensure a red-hot atmosphere, something which Neville welcomes.
He continued: "It's their first home game of the season with their new manager. They've got young, hungry players. They've got a young squad. I know they're in a little bit of a transitition, but when you put young players in there, you never know what you're going to get. But you also know that you're going to be up against a tough team.
"But away wins are vital. Back when I first started my professional career, a draw away from home was probably what you aimed for when going to a place like Villa. But now, the way the Premier League is going, three points is a necessity. You've got to go out and attack.
"You saw it in the first week of the season and all of last season. There's a much more attacking feel to the league nowadays. That's because there are quicker players, players with better technique and teams are setting out systems to go and win games rather than to go for the draw.
"We go into every game to win it. We'll go from a strong solid foundation like we always have - that's our strength - but with the attacking players we have got – and we've got options on the bench as well – we'll be going all out for the win."
From Villa's perspective, they will be keen to improve on a disappointing goal return in 2011/12 that undermined their league and cup ambitions.
But, after shutting out Manchester United's star-laden forward line, the message from Neville is clear. Frustrate the Villans with a repeat display.
He added: "Defensively we've always been really strong. Our back four is really quick and strong. We're well organised. That's one of our strengths.
"(United) didn't create much in terms of saves made by Tim Howard, but they had an awful lot of possession. There was never a point in the game where you felt comfortable.
"Jags made a couple of great interventions and Hibbo made two unbelievable tackles on the right-hand side. So you're always going to be tested. They always leave you on that edge where you never know which way the game is going to go. But at the same time it was testament to the work we have done defensively and on our shape that we managed to see out the game."