Tonight sees us host Premier League club Aston Villa in the 2nd Round of the EFL Cup with the visitors likely to give some fringe players some game time. So far this season, they lost their opening 2 Premier League games against Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth before winning their latest game on Friday night against Everton to sit 16th in the league. Their Under-21 team will be playing against Salford City, Tranmere Rovers and Bury (if they survive of course) in the EFL Trophy that starts against Salford next Tuesday.
Over the summer, the Villa have signed 12 players over the summer, those arrivals are goalkeeper Tom Heaton, defenders Kortney Hause, Matt Targett, Tyrone Mings (a permanent deal after a loan spell), Ezri Konsa and Bjorn Engels, midfielders Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba as well as forwards Jota, Anwar El Ghazi (another loan made permanent), Wesley and Trezeguet.
Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met just 4 times with Aston Villa having won 3 of the game with the other being a draw. The sides have previously met in the League Cup during the 1974/75 season where Villa won 3-2 on aggerate (with the Villans going on to win their second of 5 League Cup trophies).
Who are the officials for the game?
The officials for this game see Jarred Gillett as the man in the middle with Mark Dwyer and Nicholas Barnard his assistants and David Benton as the fourth official. We have never had Gillett as a referee for a senior game as this is his first season refereeing in England (he’s the A-League referee who was microphoned up during his final game in Australia).
I asked Aston Villa supporter Jimmy Hill for his thoughts going into the game.
How would you describe your transfer activity this summer?
I think the transfer activity has been impressive and a big commitment from the owners, keeping the majority of the promotion team by signing last year’s loan players as well as adding quality in the likes of Luiz and Wesley. A lot of money spent in a controlled, planned way which is a distance from the ‘doing a Fulham’ that was reported in the mainstream media.
Which position is the one that you should improve the most from the squad you currently have?
I think we are ok in the wings but need depth and improvement, we missed out on Benrahma from Brentford who would have added both. I think we are likely to return in January.
What do you think the team will be for the game?
I hope he starts some fringe players. Steer, Elmohamady, Targett, Konsa, Hause, Nakamba, Hourihane, Lansbury, El Ghazi, Jota, Davies
How would you set-up to nullify your team?
Nullify the team by playing into the potential lack of match fitness with a high tempo, high pressing game. That would make for a good test.
Who is the dangerman for this game?
Dangerman would be Conor Hourihane, been left out of the starting lineup for the last two games for Douglas Luiz, probably has a point to prove, stats-wise far better than Grealish but not in reality!
What do you think is a realistic aim for Villa this season?
I think we can finish in the league comfortably in mid-table, the game against Bournemouth was a reality check. The Premier League is very unforgiving, most Villa fans ‘expected’ to win that game, we much better against Everton. If we continue to play Dean Smith’s brand of football we should be fine. Sticking to footballing principles against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City is difficult.