Steven Pienaar is warning Evertonians to beware an Aston Villa backlash when the Midlanders visit Goodison Park this Saturday.
Following a run of seven Premier League matches without a win, Paul Lambert’s side currently find themselves swamped in a relegation battle.
Villa dropped to 19th in the league table after their midweek defeat to Newcastle United, while they have also exited both domestic cup competitions over the course of the last nine days.
Everton’s formidable record at Goodison Park this season stacks the odds firmly in the Blues’ favour, although Pienaar senses form could count for little at the weekend.
“They [Villa] haven’t had the luck. The last couple of games haven’t gone their way,” the South African told evertontv after collecting his December player of the month award on Thursday afternoon.
“They won’t have a lot of pressure because they are away from home, so it could be a difficult game for us. Seeing the way things are going for them, they need all the points.
“Hopefully we can go out there and treat it as a normal game and give it our best from the first minute, work hard for each other and make sure we don’t take things lightly.”
Later on Thursday, Everton completed a deadline day swoop for Barnsley's teenage right-back John Stones, the England Under-19 international joining on a five-and-a-half year deal.
Twelves months ago it was Pienaar who moved back to Goodison Park, an initial loan switch secured just minutes before the window closed.
"It was a crazy day. I was preparing to play a game for Tottenham and all of a sudden I was getting calls asking if I wanted to go back to Everton," the 30-year-old recalled.
"It has been a really good year for me. I hadn't played with a smile on my face for a long time and this year I just played with a smile every day. I was just happy and I enjoyed myself."
As soon as the full-time whistle is blown on Saturday afternoon, Pienaar will be casting both eyes towards the African Cup of Nations.
The midfielder retired from international football last year but will still be cheering on Bafana Banfana in their quarter-final tie against Mali, which is set kick off at 6.30pm.
“I’m going to put it on record just in case I’m late for the game but, definitely, I’m going to watch it,” said Pienaar.
He continued: “I miss the supporters but not the football. I’m playing here every week so it’s not a big thing.
“I’ve been watching everything and I’ve never seen an African Cup of Nations so tight. There have been a lot of draws and you can see that the competition between the teams is really high.
“Hopefully South Africa can go on to the semi-finals and beyond.”
Tickets for Saturday's visit of Aston Villa are still available. To buy, click here or call 0871 663 1878.
Alternatively, visit the Park End Box Office at Goodison Park, Everton Two in Liverpool One or Ticket Quarter in Queen Square.