After a rare but very pleasant weekend off work, with excellent weather, I have to admit I’d almost forgotten about this game.
Which is quite sad really, as it yet again demonstrates how little this cup means compared to being in the Premier league nowadays. The prize money for winning is only £100,000, after all and it’s not even a weeks wages to some players. There is a Europa cup place at stake though, so it still holds some importance.
The devaluing of the cup is even more demonstrated when the top teams treat the competition with contempt by playing almost fully changed up sides.
As much as I dislike this practice generally, there’s no doubt we’ll be doing the same and in fairness to the Villa, this time I think we’ll have very valid reasons for doing it, as there are players who haven’t featured yet and it’ll be a good oportunity to see how they integrate.
Which makes me wonder who will start?
Will Jed Steer start, for example? To my mind goalies don’t need a rest, but many of us feel that Steer has been a bit hard done by and it’s probably only fair that he will start.
Surely Targett will get his first game, as while Taylor hasn’t done much wrong, we all know he’s very limited going forward and surely Dean Smith will want to get at Crewe tonight?
I’d imagine Engels keeps his place, but Mings will probably be rested after his groin twinge, which needed a painkilling jab before the Everton game. Which should prove an opportunity for Ezri Konsa to start, although there might be a case for Hause too.
I’d keep Guilbert in the side to help him get fully up to match fitness, but given that it’s pretty obvious he’s going to replace Elmohamady over this season, Smith might feel he owes the Egyptian.
The midfield offers even more options.
Luiz did okay on Friday and I’d expect he’ll start, but everywhere else is open. It wouldn’t suprise me if Grealish and McGinn are rested, which leaves room for Hourihane and possibly Lansbury, who if he doesn’t get a game means he’s finished at the Villa, for whatever reason.
Then it’s a choice of of Jota, El Ghazi and Trezuguet as the wide players. I’d expect all to feature at some time.
And finally, Davis gets a start, as we don’t want to burn Wesley out, do we? although he might be chomping at the bit after getting off the mark on Saturday. No, we definitely can’t risk him playing more than a few minutes, given our lack of options up front.
The keen-eyed among you will have noticed I haven’t mentioned Nakamba. If I recall correctly, Dean Smith said recently that he’s not match fit yet, so I doubt he’ll feature, but guess he might get a few minutes.
While I think I’ve seen someone at Crewe talking about a shock win, in a headline somewhere, I can’t help but feel that whoever we put out should have enough to beat the railwaymen quite comfortably.
I’m going for a 3-1 win.