Martin O`Neill gets a welcome break from the trials and tribulations of the English Premier League as Aston Villa get into some cup action. With the Europa Cup already scratched off the “to win” list on account of our dismal defeat at the hands of some Rapid Austrian`s, surely the Northern Irishman cannot afford another early cup exit.
Facing Villa tonight will be a Cardiff City side who know a thing or two about a decent cup run, having faced now struggling Portsmouth City in the FA Cup final two years ago.
Tonight, we welcome back former Villans in the way of Peter`s Whittingham and Enckelman, and also Ricardo Scimeca, and potentially are set for an early ‘welcome back from the naughty corner` to Nigel Reo-Coker.
No Rocky references.
Martin O`Neill believes that his Villa side are raring to go as they enter into the League Cup and the manager is hoping to avoid an early exit, which he`s managed the past 2 seasons at the hands of his former club Leicester, and most disappointingly (as I`d spent good money on a ticket!) Queens Park Rangers.
MON spoke to avfc.co.uk:
“I am looking forward to it. I really am.
We desperately want to win the game and we will go strongly. We will make some changes to the side but the players who are coming in are not peripheral players [sorry Moustapha, ed] – they are quality ones in our squad who have played a big part in getting results in the not-too-distant past.
They will feel a bit unlucky not to be in the side at the moment actually.”
When quizzed on the team`s chances of League Cup glory, the manager was, surprisingly, to the point and non-confusing!:
“Premier League sides drawn at home in this round of the competition will be asked the same question. Do you think you have a chance of winning the competition?
I’m sure the reporters will get the same answer. It is far too early to start making judgements but we can press home our home advantage. I want to win the game and from there on in, who knows?
Cardiff listening to me talking about this competition further down the line would get all the motivation they want and need.”
Former Aston Villa midfielder, and League Cup goalscoring winner Ian Taylor is pining for a return to Wembley Stadium, this time as an ever-enthusiastic supporter of all things Claret & Blue. Taylor, who scored in the 1996 cup victory over Leeds United told avfc.co.uk:
“We are long overdue a Wembley appearance but I think the Carling Cup is definitely one of those trophies that is within our grasp.
These games are very equal affairs more often than not. They are actually cup finals for lower league opposition.
For Cardiff to come here it will be like a cup final to them. They are going quite well in the Championship at the moment so it won’t be an easy game.
It will be tough – we’ll have to be on our mettle, but I expect us to win.”
Coming away from Villa, and turning things to the Vital Football Network. You may well have seen that vitalfootball.co.uk has been listed as the 7th top website in the Telegraph`s top 25 football websites. Great news for the network and boss Jonathan Fear had this to say:
“I`m delighted at the news and cannot thank murph enough for his efforts. It is quite clearly his previews that have drawn the Telegraph`s attention, and have fired the network further than I had ever expected. I shall be giving him a pay rise in due course.
On the flip-flop side, Dave Jones, who is enjoying himself seemingly down in South Wales, is looking forward to the game and has promised the travelling support that his team will put on a show for them. Jones spoke to cardiffcityfc.co.uk:
“We are the underdogs at Villa and the players must go and give their all. We’ve got a big following going and we want to put on a show for our fans. I don’t relish being underdogs – we’d rather be top dogs – but we’re playing a top six Premier side and it will be a tough battle. We will have to be at our best to get anything out of it.
Villa are a massive club with fantastic support. I’ve never understood the philosophy about putting out weakened teams in Cup competitions. I put out a team to get a result and Martin O’Neill will do the same.
There are only two or three clubs capable of winning the Premier title, then that leaves you the two Cups. We got to the the FA Cup final a couple of years ago, maybe because Premier teams didn’t take it seriously, If I were a Premier League chairman spending vast amounts of money, I would have wanted to know why three of the semi-finalists that year were Championship clubs and not Premier clubs.”
Meanwhile, former Villa goalkeeper and derby-day-donkey Encks is looking forward to returning to Villa Park. Again he spoke to the Cardiff Official Website:
“I always look forward to going back there. They gave me my chance in this country. Villa Park is a great stadium and a nice place to play.
I remember Gabriel Agbonlahor as a kid when I was there. He was a lightning-quick lad and he’s turned out very well.”
Isn`t that lovely. Any chance of you conceding from a throw-in just to even the balance Peter?
AVFC Claret & Blues Team News:
Well Martin O`Neill has confirmed that Emile Heskey will be unavailable for this game. (Woop Woop!)
Luke Young is still on compassionate leave, but BBC Sport are reporting that Nigel Reo-Coker will be included in the squad.
I`d personally expect baby-Brad to get a chance between the pipes, a long with youngsters Delph, Gardner and possibly even a game for Nicky Shorey once more.
Sali no, I`m not going to bother this time.
Player to watch: Everyone!
If there`s one thing to say for these League Cup matches, is that arrogance is usually our downfall, that and our fringe players have been somewhat awful. We even played Routledge last time!
If our credentials as a Premier League force are to be believed, then we need to prove we can operate on all fronts (except Europe, woops!)
Cardiff Bluebirds Team News:
Peter Enckelman is set to replace former Norwich goalkeeper David Marshall at Villa Park, which could be awfully good news for us haha!
Stephen McPhail is suspended, and BBC are suggesting Gabor Gypes and Tony Capaldi will play.
Player to watch: Pete Whittingham
Since departing Villa, Whittingham has forged a decent career at Cardiff City (lets face it, he has an FA Cup medal of some sort!) It will be interesting to see how the playmaker gets on.
Match Facts & Stats
This weeks music is too obvious given the fact we have Welsh opposition. Dedicated to Caster Semenye.
Wales is a country that is next to England, yet bizzarely Cardiff, Wrexham and Swansea all play in the English football leagues.
Wales is famous for sheep, Tom Jones (video above), erm
I come from Wales, but I don`t advertise that fact too much.
Aston Villa were the first ever winners of the Football League Cup, defeating Rotherham United over 2 legs. One of the goals scored in that game, was by none other than Peter McParland, who`s goals in 1957 brought about the clubs last FA Cup victory.
Cardiff City, and former Aston Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman comes from Turku, which will be 2011 Capital of Culture. A bit like Liverpool only less theft I`d imagine.
No idea, sorry! He`ll probably be rubbish as usual therefore it`s irrelevant.
Aston Villa 58.1 – Cardiff City 0
We`re off to Blackburn on Saturday, returning to Premier League action and hopefully another 3 points!