Villa Park, Birmingham
24th September, 2013
Aston Villa host Tottenham Hotspur at the Villa Park in their League cup fixture tonight. The Visitors have dominated the recent meetings between these two sides, winning five of the last six matches. In fact Aston Villa’s last victory against Tottenham came way back in 2008. Interestingly Villa have managed to score only one goal in their last four matches against Spurs, conceding nine in the process. Paul Lambert will hope for a better performance from his team in this game.
The Lions made a good start to their league campaign with an away victory against Arsenal, but they followed it up with three defeats in a row. The fixture list has been kind to them though, along with the Gunners, they have faced Chelsea and Liverpool in their opening five matches so far. Hence the six points collected so far in the league is not as bad as it seems. In their performances have been better than what their league position suggest.
They are coming into this game on the back of a crucial 1-0 victory away to Norwich, as new signing Libor Kozak’s first half strike proved to be the winner. In the last round of the League Cup fixture Aston Villa defeated Rotherham 3-0 with goals from Andreas Weimann, Benteke and Fabian Delph. Benteke though will be unavailable for this game.
The big Belgian striker picked up an injury in the match against Norwich and will be rested for this fixture. That injury has given Paul Lambert a lot to worry about, but he hopes his striker can recover for the match next weekend. He is also aware of Tottenham’s superior quality on paper and has hoped for a ‘great’ match.
“Hopefully it’s not too bad [Benteke’s injury]. We’ve got a game Tuesday but the most important one is the one on Saturday.
“Any cup game you get, you want to be at home. But we’re up against a top, top side. Andre has some top players but that’s what you have to come up against.
“It will be a great game. I am pretty sure the stadium will be full or not far off it.” – Lambert said.
Lambert has a lot of injuries to deal with ahead of this fixture. Benteke, Gardner, Agbonlahor, Westwood, Okore and N’Zogbia will miss this game due to injuries. Kozak will replace Benteke upfront, with Weimann and Tonev supporting him out wide. Yacouba Sylla will start in the midfield alongside Delph and Ahmadi. The defence which was fielded against Norwich should be largely unchanged, with Jed Steer likely to replace Guzan in goal.
Expected Starting Line-Up (4-3-3): Steer (GK); Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Luna; Sylla, Delph, Ahmadi; Tonev, Kozak, Weimann
Tottenham and Andre Villas Boas have made a dream start to their league campaign this season and are currently lying in second place in the league with only goal difference separating them from Arsenal at the top. Spurs have won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the loss against Arsenal being the only blemish.
They are coming into this game on the back of a crucial 1-0 victory over Cardiff, away from home, this Sunday. Despite dominating most of the match it seemed like Spurs will be unable to break the dead lock, until Paulinho settled up with a dramatic winner in the 93rd minute of the game.
Andre Villas Boas is delighted with the start his team has made in all competitions, but has expressed his concern regarding the fixture list will now see them playing three matches in space of six days. The Portuguese manager has questioned the reasoning behind such a schedule and seemed worried about his fitness of his players.
“How can a game be scheduled after two days, immediately putting careers at risk with injuries?
“I find it absolutely incredible that we have to risk injuries to our players in a game that they play on that Tuesday. The problem is that it puts the players in a very difficult situation.
“It’s also nothing new in English football. I had the same thing once with Wolverhampton (Wanderers) and Chelsea, when I was at Chelsea, and I spoke the same way.
“The second day of recovery is the most dangerous day for a player to pick up an injury.
“If this is not taken into account I think it’s bad. Other things have to be respected – televised games, fixture organisation, the police – comes into account because of the fixtures that are being played on the Tuesday and Wednesday.
“But the problem is that in the end Tottenham were chosen to play on Tuesday, with only the Monday to recover from the last match, and that puts us in a very difficult position.” – The Tottenham manager told the press.
AVB is expected to make a number of changes to the side that was fielded against Cardiff in their last game. Jermaine Defoe, Rose, Kaboul, Chadli, Capoue and Lennon are all out of contention for this game with injuries. With AVB looking to rest his players, Harry Kane is likely to get his first start this season, replacing Soldado upfront. Lamela and Holtby will replace Townsend and Eriksen in attack with Sigurdsson retaining his place. Sandro is likely to replace Paulinho in the midfield and will partner Dembele in the pivot. Naughton, who played as a left back against Cardiff, will move back to the right back role in this game in place of Walker, while Ezekiel Fryers starts at the left back. New signing Chiriches will replace Dawson in defence, while Friedel comes back in the starting line-up.
Expected Starting Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Friedel (GK); Naughton, Chiriches, Vertonghen, Fryers; Sandro, Dembele; Lamela, Holtby, Sigurdsson; Kane
Players to watch out for: Fabian Delph (Aston Villa); Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur)
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur