In a competition where countless clubs can be accused of fielding “experimental” teams one team has little option. Tonight Aston Villa travel to the Etihad Stadium, for the third round of the ‘Capital One’ cup, knowing that whatever eleven they start with many will have experienced limited playing time together.
Being the League Cup’s second most successful club, behind Liverpool, Villa will no doubt be looking to mount a very prosperous challenge in this year’s campaign. For the more curious of readers the reasons can be deduced as threefold.
1) Many of the Claret and Blue faithful were embarrassed by last weekends humiliating 4-1 defeat to Southampton, and will be seeking an immediate reprieve.
2) New boss Lambert would love to cement his first season in charge with silverware, and this competition perhaps offers Villa’s most realistic chance of that.
3) A majority of fans at Villa Park still hold a grudge towards the blue half of Manchester, for financially bullying the club out of two of their prized assets. Those being club captain and long time servant Gareth Barry and midfield engine James Milner.
Boasting the most impressive squad depth in the country Manchester City will be ringing in the changes for tonight’s 7.45pm kick off. The unpredictable Balotelli looks set to start, baring any last minute drama, and relatively unknown youngsters Denis Suarez, Abdul Razak and Luca Scapuzzi will also be included in the squad.
Since swapping the yellow and green of Norwich City, for the claret and blue of Aston Villa this summer, Paul Lambert has overseen a vast change of faces at the club. Working on an ethic of signing ‘young and hungry’ players the Scot has bought in nine players at a total cost of £23.7m.
The majority, Lowton, Bennett, Bowery and Westwood have been plucked from the lower divisions and are as yet unproven at Premiership level. Three (Vlaar, Holman, El Ahmadi) are more accustomed to the slower pace of the Dutch Eredivisie, and marquee signing Benteke, although a great talent, is still only 21 years old.
Despite the likelihood of opting to go with almost their strongest team possible it is ironic that Villa, rather than Man City, will possess the less experienced side.
image: © ell brown