Everton could crack the top five or even top four with three points on their trip to Aston Villa this Saturday.
The Toffees are on 15 points, just a point off Tottenham Hotspur in fifth and Manchester City in fourth. They're also behind Southampton, who's got the advantage on goal differential. Everton will need a lot of help if they're going to jump up in the table, but it can be done.
Villa, on the other hand, are trying to claw their way back into the top half. They sit 13th in the table, on 10 points. They're a point below Newcastle, who are in 10th. Much like with Everton, you could see the Villans take a big jump this weekend. They'll just need a lot of help.
This has the potential to be a very entertaining game between two clubs that will look at this match as a golden opportunity to pick up three points.
When: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. ET; 3 p.m. BST
Where: Villa Park, Birmingham, England
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.)
Odds (courtesy of Bloomberg Sports)
Aston Villa win: 28.2 percent
Everton win: 45.2 percent
Draw: 26.6 percent
Top Storyline: Which Belgian Will Prevail?
This match features a battle of wills between two strikers fighting for a starting spot in the Belgian national team. It must be so nice to be Marc Wilmots. He can opt for either Romelu Lukaku or Christian Benteke, depending on the situation. Both guys are among the best strikers in England.
Everton have a nice statistical breakdown of the two.
While Lukaku and Benteke won't be going up against one another head to head, watching how these two strikers operate will be a match all by itself. Aside from their respective desires to simply win the match, each guy has a chance to demonstrate to Wilmots he's the superior player.
Going back to the match itself, the player with the better game will likely swing the momentum in favor of his club.
Benteke's performance will be the much more important. He made his return from injury last week against Tottenham as a substitute. That's great news for Villa because the 22-year-old forward makes the attack go, as was established while he was replaced by the ineffective Libor Kozak in the lineup. If Benteke's off his game, Aston Villa will have a difficult time in the final third.
Everton aren't as dependent on Lukaku. They're much better when he's firing on all cylinders, but should he be neutralized, the Toffees could still have enough to see the match out.
This match is a tactical battle between the possession style of Everton and the lethal counter-attacking of Aston Villa. Both clubs could be playing into each other's hands.
Roberto Martinez will be all too happy to control the match, as it limits Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann's opportunities to get forward down the flanks. On the other side, Paul Lambert will allow his team to cede possession and bide their time before quickly launching on the counter whenever there's an opening.
Good luck trying to predict the result. You could foresee an Everton win just as easily as you could an Aston Villa win. Neither team has a distinct advantage. While the Toffees have the slight edge in terms of talent, Villa get the added boost of playing at home.
Coincidentally, the past six matches between these two clubs have featured a win for each side and four draws, via WhoScored. With so little separating the sides, expect another draw.
Aston Villa 1, Everton 1
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