If I say to you that Villa haven’t won a third round FA tie in eight years and that no club has been in the top two divisions and lost nine ties on the trot, I’ll bet that I know exactly what you’re thinking.
“We’re just the club to re-write that record”
And I’d agree with you.
I’m sure we all remember the defeat to Stevenage, because it seemed to set yet another low in what was a bad time. It wasn’t Gerrard in charge at the time though. It was actually Emery, who was finding his feet and all about the players.
I like the way Emery does his interviews because I find them intriguing. He has a knack of being informative while saying absolutely nothing at all.
He talked about the game in an interview with Birmingham Live and I thought it was quite revealing in a couple of areas. I’m sure many of you will have already read it, but I’ll put the link up anyway;
The first point is;
“When we were speaking about the respect for this competition, it is not really showing it with the starting XI players”
Now, he does go on to say that he may or he may not, but I take that as a strong hint that he probably will change at least a couple of players. Not so much for rest, but most likely just tactically.
And then he went on to talk about the transfer window. I’m not shortening this, because I think it’s quite illuminating;
“I am thinking not a lot about it because maybe one or two players could leave, maybe but it’s not clear. If we are trying to get someone it is really because we are very convinced he is going to increase our level in the squad. It is not very clear in the January window to get it.”
Which left me a bit disappointed as I thought that made it pretty obvious that we can expect one, maybe two at most and even then, probably loans, which have never seemed a very successful idea to me.
Which then begs all sorts of questions such as if we’re not going to push the boat out in the window, how serious will we take the FA cup, when we’ll need to conserve as much energy as possible for the league?
I could quite easily be trying to over-analyse things and knowing Emery, he’s probably just taking things one game at a time. That said, I’m not convinced he cares too much for the FA cup, as much as he tries to talk it up. Which brings us on to the game.
Squad news and Emery said it himself;
(long termers apart) “Pau is also not available, nor Lucas Digne, Bertrand Traoré or Youri Tielemans.”
Pau’s obviously a big miss, but the good news is we have Kamara back after his suspension and he should be well rested. Matty Cash was seemingly suffering from illness, but it’s all a bit vague and the manager has said everybody else is available.
As for Boro, the big news for us is that Finn Azaz will be available after his £2.5 million move to the club mid-week, though it’s most likely he’ll be on the bench.
Paddy McNair, Matt Crooks, Marcus Forss, and Darragh Lenihan are all out, but Hayden Hackney, Matt Crooks and Emmanuel Latte Lath have all returned to training this week, so could feature.
Middlesbrough sit twelfth in the Championship, but they’re only 4 points off the play-off places, so they already have plenty to think about. There’s also the little matter of a Carabou cup quarter final game against Chelsea midweek. Hence there’s been talk that Michael Carrick might change his team up in a major way for today’s game. Certainly, it seems to me that we should prove a tougher game than facing Chelsea, but I am of course biased.
I watched Boro’s game against Coventry the other night to try and weigh up the opposition, or at least the first half, as I became bored and switched to another game. Suffice to say, that I didn’t see much to worry about. Coventry went on to win 3-1 after falling behind and looked good for it from what I saw.
Boro just look like your typical midtable Championship side, that work hard and have a few decent players. In other words, well capable of beating Aston Villa, if recent history is anything to go by.
Yet I don’t see a problem.
Of course, nuch depends on what sort of side we field. But if it’s anywhere near a full strength side, I feel we’ll have enough to see them off reasonably comfortably, particularly as I see this game being less of a priority for them.
I’m going for a 2-1 win.
What we could really do without is a draw, but the doubting Thomas in me thinks that’s also a good possibility.
Nah, I’m sticking with the win.