Everton have received a reason to be optimistic heading into our first Premier League encounter with Aston Villa since 2016, as Michael Oliver has been named as the referee for our Friday night fixture.
Oliver has ruled over games in each match week so far this season, having held the whistle over Norwich City’s thrashing at Anfield on the opening day and during Manchester City’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday.
The Ashington-born official has not been involved with an Everton fixture since January, though, when he stood in the middle of our FA Cup exit at the hands of Millwall in the Fourth Round.
But we are unbeaten in our last four Premier League ties with Oliver casting his judgment, including the 5-1 demolition of Burnley on Boxing Day and the 0-0 draw with Liverpool in April 2018.
Oliver was also the referee during our 2-0 FA Cup win at home to Chelsea in 2016, and has held the whistle in three games between the Toffees and Friday night’s opponent Aston Villa since his league debut in 2010 – with the Blues boasting an unbeaten record.
Everton and Villa first faced off with the 34-year-old in control of proceedings in September 2011, as our two sides played out a 2-2 draw thanks to goals by Leon Osman, Stiliyan Petrov, Leighton Baines and Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Our next encounter came in August 2012, when a Steven Pienaar strike opened the action in the third minute, before Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic secured the result before half-time as the Toffees ran out 3-1 victors to end the day third in the table.
It would be three years before Oliver was next in charge of a game between the Villains and Blues, but the result stayed the same, as the Birmingham-based outfit suffered a 4-0 defeat at Goodison Park in November 2015 as braces by Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku left an Idrissa Gana Gueye Villa rooted to the bottom of the table.
We would also win the reverse fixture that season 3-1, but with Roger East in charge, and have not faced Aston Villa since due to their relegation to the Championship that term.