Another cup tie, another chance to give the second team a run-out. Normally, I’d be annoyed with the congestion, but since we actually have a second unit, I’m less bothered.
Following the loss to Chelsea, Villa go to St. James Park in what has become about as much of a must-win game as any match can be apart from a final-fixture showdown to avoid relegation.
Tactically, I understand the calls for 4-4-2. My guess is that Davis is starting in the 4-3-3 because Dean wants Villa to get established and settled. Get some confidence. A player like Ally is going to want quick through-balls, and players are going to try and feed him. While his upside is high, that kind of play always runs the risk of it coming right back at us, especially given the layoff and lack of sharpness. Going 4-4-2 with limited fitness means both are probably off late in the game, leaving Vassilev and Baston to chase a winner.
Football’s been just about the last thing on my mind, and it feels very strange to be coming back to the keyboard to write about a resumption of sporting hostilities when so much else has been going on. But here we are, and Villa will start fighting for their Premier League lives again in a week. God only knows what’ll we get. Regardless, it’s time to shake off the rust and get our game faces on.
In recent years, I’ve dismissed cup competitions for Villa because we’ve been up against it, and the extra games don’t seem to help survival or promotion. They’re a distraction: fatigue, injury, possible demoralization. The only value has seemed to be in getting minutes in match conditions for players and combinations that don’t start regularly. But tonight’s game is a little different.