Aston Villa manager Remi Garde admits his team were "too light" in the first half of their 4-0 loss to Everton on Saturday, with the Frenchman ruing the absence of midfielder Carlos Sanchez.
Villa found themselves 3-0 down after the first 45 minutes thanks to a brace from Ross Barkley and a goal courtesy of Romelu Lukaku as Sanchez watched from the bench.
Sanchez was named among the substitutes following his duties for Colombia during the international break, but Garde made the change at half-time to bring him on for Idrissa Gueye.
"I think we missed a little bit of character, we were too light on the field," admitted Garde.
"We didn't win enough challenges, enough duels - that was a key point of the game.
"We were better in the second half. A player like Carlos Sanchez has done quite well in this situation.
"The first half we didn't win any challenges and when you don't it's too difficult to win the game."
Villa remain bottom of the Premier League with just one win from their opening 13 games.