It only seems five minutes ago since I last wrote a match preview. Stoke City will be Aston Villa’s fifth game in fifteen days so far this season. It highlights just how fast-paced this season will be.
Dean Smith’s men kicked off this season with a 1-3 over League One side, Burton Albion. Championship side Bristol City awaited them in the Third Round but the game proved to be more comfortable than their second-round tie as they come away with a comfortable 0-3 win at Ashton Gate.
Stoke entered the competition at an earlier stage than Dean Smith’s men. Michael O’Neill’s men have had to beat Blackpool at home (on penalties), Wolves away (0-1) and finally Gillingham at home (1-0) in the previous round. They shocked many with their win over Wolves in Round Two but have shown they are a different proposition under O’Neill so I think it may be a harder game for Villa than the one they experienced against Bristol City.
It is hardly a surprise given Villa’s start to the season that they are favourites with bookies like William Hill. Villa are 8/11 while Stoke are 4/1 to win the game. You can get 3/1 odds on a draw.
New loan-signing Ross Barkley will not be able to play a part as he is cup-tied having featured for Chelsea already in the competition.
Bjorn Engels is back in training and will be pushing for at least some game time if he is not selected to start. Smith could opt for the same starting line-up that beat Bristol City in the previous round.
Ahmed Elmohamady could captain the side again in his new centre back role.
O’Neill is also likely to make changes despite having two extra days to prepare. Danny Batth, Nick Powell, Tyrese Campbell and Sam Vokes could all feature after missing out of Stokes game against Preston at the weekend.
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Darren Cann, Scott Ledger. Fourth official: Martin Atkinson.
DID YOU KNOW
Aston Villa and Stoke City have not met in the League Cup since 1962. Villa ran out 3-1 winners that day.
Stoke City have not lost at Villa Park in their last seven meetings (W4, D3).
Aston Villa have scored more goals than any other club in the League Cup since the start of last season.
It is hard not to be confident at the moment where Villa are concerned. I spoke about a real buzz when the season kicked off and nothing has changed to change that feeling. However, the stat about Stoke’s recent form at Villa Park does make me a little uneasy I must say. I will stick with a home win though. Aston Villa 2-0 Stoke City.
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