Saturday October 26th, 2013

Tim Howard, Everton Tim Howard's Everton team have 18 points from their opening nine games. (Chris Brunskill/Getty images)

As far as pregame storylines go, goalkeeping duels can be a bit of a stretch. There's the obvious issue of how two players stationed as far away as possible from each other can possibly be engaged in a "duel." Then there's the need for both 'keepers to make outstanding saves -- an event you're lucky to get one or two of in any given game.

However, the all-American Howard-Guzan clash in Everton's 2-0 win at Aston Villa lived up to the name. At least in the first half.  The two Americans traded saves of all varieties, but the pick of the litter was Howard's superb denial of Christian Benteke from the penalty spot. Bonus points for the "discount double-check" celebration.



The save turned out to be crucial in the game's larger context. Villa, playing at home, seemed deflated after the PK save, and Everton rode the momentum through the second half. Eventually, goals from Romelu Lukaku and Leon Osman gave Everton three points, extending their excellent start to the season under new boss Roberto Martinez. Villa, meanwhile, slide into the bottom half of the EPL. The Birmingham club hasn't won since their 3-2 triumph over Manchester City at the end of September.

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