Short answer, it might. Given the differences in squad depth and fitness, Villa will inevitably field a weaker side than the one that lost to Chelsea 0-3 just over a week ago.

Dean Smith has provided a couple hints about his selections, and we can infer that Emi Buendia and Bertrand Traoré will probably feature. After that, bit of a guessing game given United at the weekend, and a few knocks sustained in the 3-0 win over Everton.

Smith has said all the right things about the quality available to both sides, and how they both want to win and progress. But it’s clear that Villa will have one hand tied behind their back.

Naturally who plays depends on formation. Or, formation depends on who’s available. You can easily imagine El Ghazi, Buendia and Traoré behind a striker. Would that striker be Ollie, Ings or young Cameron Archer? If Dean sticks 3-5-2, you’d imagine Ollie will inevitably play. How long would Sanson last, and is he even ready to jump right in against Chelsea? Would Traoré hold up as a wingback?

Or will Jacob Ramsey, given his youth and recent performances, be judged able to play tonight and Saturday? Ramsey, Buendia, and Nakamba wouldn’t be the worst middle three.

Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Carney Chukwuemeka have both returned to training, so I’d imagine they’re on the bench if remotely fit, but probably not in line to start.

At the back, again depending on formation, we’ll probably see Young for Targett, and Tuanzebe for Cash. In the middle, you’d think Konsa and Hause (a natural left-footer), though you can’t rule out Mings given CBs won’t expend quite as much energy.

On the bench, we’ll probably see as many fully fit starters available as possible to try and win late or simply keep things from getting ugly. But at the moment, we assume John McGinn will surely be out under concussion protocol, and really don’t know the true status of Matt Targett, Matty Cash, or Leon Bailey.

So, lots of questions to be answered shortly. I’m guessing Smith will line up to frustrate Chelsea and keep it close, but that’s easier said than done. And I’m always wrong when I predict this.

All I’m really worried about is quality time and performances from whoever does start, whatever the result. You always want to see some fight, and you always want to see players rising to an occasion. I’d obviously love for Villa to extend the cup run for the sake of squad development, minutes together and fitness. Hell, I’d love for Villa to win the whole thing.

But at the moment, Smith has too many starters to nurse along and that we’ll just have to live with whatever happens.

Over to you.

Comments 44

  1. Interesting. Looks to be a 4-2-3-1, and Cash is fit.

    Steer, Cash, Tuanzebe, Hause, Young, Nakamba, Sanson, Buendia, El Ghazi, Traoré, Archer

    A. Ramsey, Philogene-Bidace, Konsa, Chukwuemeka Brothers, Bogarde, Sinisalo,

  2. Penalty aside, Nakamba was my man of the match. Liked the way Hause physically matched Lukaku. If that had been a boxing match, Chelski would have got that narrowly on points.


  3. No flies on Villa. Two times inside of two weeks they have pushed Chelsea. Both games could have gone either way.
    What a nice problem for Smith…who to play next game.
    Anyone calling for the axe to Villa’s brain trust should be sent to St Andrew’s for penance.
    A very nice free kick in the first half on the left side. You can see a difference in set pieces, not subtle but in your face differences.
    The tough part now is all the pillaging the top 6 six are going to do to Villa.

    And, Jack the fuck who?

  4. Disappointed that Ashley Young put in such a poor penalty, but until then He and Villa had been doing really well.
    Also Jed Steer was the poorest I have seen him, moving to his right before the kick was taken, making it simple to score, until their fourth penalty.
    Nkamba did his best, but again, a very poor penalty, which is something he does not do, maybe it should have been Carney or Cameron.
    Anyway, on to the next game, no point in dwelling on what might have been, but all the London clubs winning.
    A win against United will more than make up for being knocked out!!!

  5. MK,
    I was hoping that we could have a good cup run, and have been disappointed in Steer, who has been poor deputising for Martinez this season. Maybe carrying too much timber. He cost us with Mings in the previous Chelsea game.
    Still think we should have recruited a far better no2. Sam Johnstone would have been a great addition.

  6. PP – very surprised at your comments re. Steer. I thought he had a really solid game up until the penalties. Sure, Johnstone would have been great, except he would never have come just to be a No.2.
    Anyway, Villa can really hold their heads high, pushing Chelsea all the way with the ‘kids’ looking very promising indeed. This club is going places!

  7. Ha! Steer gets two games in ages. Both against Chelsea. Makes some great saves and you slag him. Yeah I was disappointed with the penalties but the difference between the two keepers was Alphabet made one right guess out of three. Both sides hit the crossbar. Going to penalties is a crap shoot. It is what it is.

  8. The Archer goal was great…and he really deserved it. And yeah, defo shades of Gray.

    What comes to mind is that he’s clearly jumped ahead of Barry. He didn’t seem at all fazed, ran all night, found himself in great positions. Sure he’s disappointed he didn’t keep the first effort down, but never hung his head and just kept working.

    Kid’s head seems to be on straight, and he’s got the right physique. Quick, strong, doesn’t overthink…Seems a natural finisher.

    Easy enough to convert against Barrow. Trailing 0-1 at Stamford Bridge in a cup tie after missing a couple chances? That’s a really good sign.

  9. Check out Derby County. -12 points for going into administration. Thank you Wes and Nassif. If you hadn’t shown up in the nick of time, good ‘Ol cryptic Tony would have us in league2 or dissolved.

  10. Ian- talking of Tony the Chinese have a problem, huge empty cities sold to people on the basis they would make a lot of profit an they are still empty, housing bust here we come.

  11. Archer is a dream and If Wesley had reappeared at least on par with old Wesley then Ings would not be here.

    PP- yeah I agree Steer not at his best, when you watch Martinez he does as the Chelsea keeper did and leverages ever ounce of brinkmanship out of a penalty cranking up the stress levels. Steer was like a statue and didn’t exactly radiate anything let alone confidence.

    That said there’s a possibility Lukaku’s pen was illegal, he makes a stutter run, if you stop and step back its then two runs which was outlawed because the keeper dives and looks a twat.

    Still for me it was a missed opportunity we would have Southampton next.

  12. Watch Lukaku’s pen and apply this.

    If, before the ball is in play, the player taking the penalty kick feints to kick the ball:
    1️⃣ in the run-up: permitted ✅
    2️⃣ once the kicker has completed the run-up: not permitted ❎
    ➡️ play is restarted with an indirect free kick, regardless of whether or not a goal is scored
    ➡️ the kicker is cautioned (yellow card )

  13. Ian, Tony liar was involved heavily in these cities.

    The Evergrande fiasco is nothing more than a classic Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme involving property developers and greed-driven investors who chased high returns while forgetting about the existence of risk. (Every generation, it seems, must learn this painful lesson the hard way…)

    Like all successful Ponzi schemes, Evergrande’s rise to become a global Fortune 500 business hinged on it finding a steady supply of new suckers to hand over their money as “investments” in the Evergrande scheme.

    Buoyed by a flood of incoming investment money, Evergrande churned out entire “ghost cities” of apartment buildings across China, selling the ludicrous idea that these apartments would serve as retirement assets for the millions of Chinese citizens who “invested” in their construction. As long as the buildings kept going up — and the bond payments were made on time — everybody convinced themselves they were getting rich.

    Madoff isn’t merely rolling in his grave… he’s laughing.

    Because it’s the same Madoff scandal, all over again, but at a significantly larger scale. The Evergrande Ponzi scheme involves at least $300 billion dollars in direct debt, rippling into potentially trillions of dollars in total exposure around the world (among banks and institutional investors) due to leveraged investment instruments and the ripple effect of non-payment (i.e. default).

  14. Not watched the full match yet how did Sanson look? is he the answer to anything? I for one was not surprised he got an injury though, no match time, a big opponent and the need to impress meant he was always going to go over the top in effort.

  15. MK,
    I am the same. Did not see the match, but just caught the penalty shoot out on Sky.
    Perhaps I may have been a little unfair, but I did see the whole of the first Chelsea match, and was not impressed with Steer, as I have been in the past. He just seemed to lack that spark, he had before.

  16. Pp- I guess In the back of his head he sees no chance of keeping the number one spot and Martinez is a dominant character no matter how friendly he comes across. Hope lies in the reserves I think we have a few very decent lads that could make it. I don’t think there are many would fancy being Martinez’s no 2 unless for the money. At the end of the day it’s the job of the reserve keeper to be ready more than any other position, after all it doesn’t require massive fitness.

  17. We’d all have loved it if we’d got through to the next round but it would be harsh and unfair to put the loss at any particular player’s door, or the manager’s come to that.
    It was right to give Steer the game and he certainly can’t be blamed for the loss, although having seen Martinez’s heroics against Brazil, it would have been great for him to have a chance to reprise his hip thrust after saving one or two Chelsea penalties last night.
    I look forward to the point where we don’t think . . .’hey didn’t we do well, and came so close’, but actually expect to win against even the best opposition. Last night reinforced the progress we’re making and hopefully we’re only 2 or 3 seasons away from really competing with the best on a regular basis.
    When you consider that Chelsea brought on Lukaku and Mount and we brought on Chukwuemeka and Philogene-Bidace, but still held our own it is hugely encouraging and makes you feel that future players we ship out are more likely to be replaced from inside the Academy rather than outside the club

  18. Mark, I’m completely with you on the Lukaku penalty. As soon as he took it I was off my seat, expecting it to be retaken. I’ve not watched it back, but first time round it seemed clear to me that there were two movements and as you said, it was outside the rules.
    It’s a bit late for a VAR decision now though (can it even be used on penalties?) so we are left with our pride and optimism for the future.

    I’ve seen Nakamba apologising for his missed penalty and I’m sure we all felt for both him and Young, but it’s been good to see the outpouring of support online, and the recognition that he actually played very well again and may turn out to be yet another player that has improved considerably under Dean Smith’s management.

  19. Of course, the player who showed the most improvement under Dean Smith was Grealish. I wonder if our Jack will credit DS and his team with his improvement or take all the credit himself? It left me wondering how Pep really does compare and is he really the dog’s Bollocks in player development?
    Let’s face it, it’s hard to judge because he tends to spend squillions on players who have already shown that they can perform at the top level. Foden has come through well under his tutelage and no doubt there are other similar players who’ve developed under him, but they ‘should’ have already won the Champion’s league with the players he’s brought in and he was responsible for screwing up their chances in their last final against Chelsea.
    I’ve seen videos of him strutting up and down the changing room, ‘performing’ to his players and wonder how much of his reputation is based on true and deep knowledge of the game and incisive analysis and how much may be down to showmanship. . . . . . It’s just a question as I don’t have the answer.
    Self-effacing managers like Dean Smith will find it harder to get the same credit because of the way they go about their work but I know which type of manager I prefer. Sadly, many football supporters will be attracted by the allure of big names, even if what they’re admiring is a polished veneer over cheap pine rather than unpolished solid oak.

  20. Robbo- having fielded a strong side anyway its just a shame we didn’t go that extra step to win rather than be fair to anyone. That can be the difference between winning and not. Tuchel had no problem putting Lukaku on to play and Mount, as much as I thought the kids used are not a big step down we could of gone for it with little effect on Saturday imo.

    I think Pepe is a student of the game, he has taken the best that history has thrown up and developed a style, that style was refined from the original that Cruyff took to Barca. Maybe his talent is identifying players that can fit to his plan rather than developing them, typically if he buys them they are very good in their own right. Take them out and put them into another style of team and they’d still be a good player but the sum of parts is greater than the whole for pepe and the parts are already bloody good.

  21. One thought, is it more advantageous now to have 5 subs for us, previously it wasn’t due to Squad quality now I am not so sure and it keeps more players happy and enables formation changes.

  22. Mark, the extra subs will always favour the clubs with greater squad depth and whereas that would disproportionately favour the greedy 6, I reckon you’re right and it would also now favour us against more than half of the premiership teams. Does that make me change my mind about having 5 subs . . . . . no, I’m still against because it will reduce competitiveness overall. I’m ashamed to admit that if it ‘is’ brought in I will feel less put out than I would have been previously though!

  23. Mark, yes we put out a strong side against the European Champions last night. . . . . . but it only included 2 players who started on Saturday. Not only that, but two of the three substitutes were non starters from Saturday and the other one, Konsa, replaced one of Saturday’s 2 starters. If ever we wanted a demonstration of how far we’ve advanced, even from last season, then that is surely it.
    Chelsea did only start with one of Saturday’s line up but finished with 4 so you could argue that they had a (slightly) less changed side than us.
    I suppose the one position for us that really might have made the real difference is in goal, after the whistle for the end of normal time had been blown. I can imagine that Martinez may have had the edge in the penalty shoot out, but none of us should forget Jed Steer’s penalty saving heroics against the Baggies that took us to that Wembley play off final. In retrospect, maybe it’s unfair to imagine that even a goalkeeper switch would have made the difference.

  24. I’m still stuck in the days when you could only have one sub for injury. It is a game for 11 players after all not f*****g 14. Bring back WM where if your centre forward was bigger than their centre forward you won the game – simples!

  25. Totally gutted we lost. But so proud of the boys. We’ve reached the point where we can give a good account of ourselves anywhere. And I mean anywhere. Could easily have won that.

    Cracking game. The only question for me concerns Sanson. The guy is really unlucky and I wait like everyone else to find out what the latest injury is all about.

    Bring on Man Ure.

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