Wednesday 27th October 2010
Venue: Villa Park
Kick Off: 19:45
Villa will be hoping to take advantage of some shock exits in the Carling Cup to strengthen their chances of another Wembley date next year. The competition has seen the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham knocked out thus far leaving Villa as third favourites behind Manchester United and Arsenal. Houllier’s men will have to overcome a tricky 4th round tie against Championship outfit Burnley to reach the Quarter-Finals of the tournament which they have won on 5 occasions. New manager Gerard Houllier will have fond memories of the Carling Cup as it was his first trophy as Liverpool boss. He went on to secure another final victory in his time at Anfield and Villa will be hoping the Frenchman’s impressive record in the competition continues. The home side will be big favourites but injury problems and a huge game against Birmingham at the weekend could prove potential banana skins.
Villa face their fierce rivals on Sunday and it is thought that Houllier will take the chance to rest a number of first team stars as he did in the last round, his first game in charge of the club, in the 3-1 win over Blackburn. Youngsters Barry Bannan, Ciaran Clark and Nathan Delfouneso will all be hoping for a chance to shine. Last year’s Cup hero Brad Guzan is likely to start in place of Brad Friedel and compatriot Eric Lichaj is almost certain to start at full back for the hosts. Injuries to Luke Young and the suspension of Stephen Warnock, who picked up his 5th yellow card of the season already, at Sunderland, have left Houllier with a weakened back line with centre backs Richard Dunne and James Collins also in line to be rested.
The main midfield absentee will be Stiliyan Petrov who is out for at least two months with knee ligament damage. Nigel Reo-Coker was called up as stand in skipper and is likely to lead out a young Villa side tomorrow night. An impressive cameo from Marc Albrighton at the weekend should have earned the 20-year-old a recall to the wing with Ireland or Downing likely to be saved for the weekend. Up front, John Carew maybe given another chance to get his first goal of the season after Emile Heskey played the entire 90 minutes on Saturday. Agbonlahor is still missing and crucially is likely to miss out against the Blues which will come as a massive blow due to the striker’s top record against City.
As for our opponent’s tomorrow night, Burnley come in to the game with a clean bill of health with the only real blow for Brian Laws side coming in the form of a suspension for centre back Leon Cort. The defender was sent off in the weekends 4-0 thrashing defeat to Reading but club captain Clarke Carlisle returns from his ban to fill his place. Burnley knocked out Premier League opposition in Bolton in the last round after a 1-0 win due to a Wade Elliott strike. The club have notable scalps in the competition after the remarkable season that saw them promoted to the Premier League was backed up by a terrific Cup run. Be warned! Villa will no doubt be hoping to make the most of another terrific opportunity to make the final but an under-strength side will encourage the visitors. Nevertheless Villa should come away with the win and I back the young stars to shine and guide us safely through to the business end of the Carling Cup.
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