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Blues Must Stifle Youthful Villa

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Former England striker Stan Collymore expects Saturday's game between Everton and his old club Aston Villa to be decided in midfield.

The two sides go into the game in contrasting form. The Blues have risen to eighth on the back of three wins in four league games, whilst Villa have won just one of six and sit just a point outside the relegation zone.

Everton are looking for their first league win over the West Midlands club since 2006 and Collymore says to do so they must come out on top in the middle ground.

"The game will we won and lost in midfield. I think in any Premier League game, the first 25 minutes you can usually see a pattern developing whereby if one midfield dominates the other they can keep the ball for long periods," Collymore told evertontv.

"Villa have got lots of mobility, lots of young lads. People like Marc Albrighton and Ciaran Clark alongside people like Petrov, Reo-Coker and Makoun.

"I think it will be won in the key midfield area and then you're looking for your strikers to finish off opportunities."

Everton may be looking to striker Jermaine Beckford to finish off the opportunities they create against Gerard Houllier's struggling side this weekend.

Beckford has scored nine goals since joining from Leeds in the summer and Collymore has been impressed with the striker's efforts in his debut campaign.

"I think he has adapted very well, he's at a club that has a system and staff that is very consistent," he said.

"There's not lots of changes made, which for a striker can be quite difficult, but I think the signs are very promising.

"I think he can look back on this season, difficult as it has been for Everton, and say he's got a decent goals tally, and can look forward to next season."

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