Middlesbrough – Villa; FA cup round 3

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.



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  1. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 10:38 am . Reply

    Read that Azaz is not available for Borough so suspect he may be cup-tied.

    Domestic cup competitions in Europe generally do not hold the same level of prestige nor history as does the FA Cup and it’s that which Emery has experience of. Having said that, with the way the ties are spread, less replays and TV, the FA Cup itself seems to be losing its excitement and prestige of old.

    Last year was Villa’s best chance to break the losing sequence and we blew it big time. It doesn’t matter what Emery says, do you the players really fancy it? I’m not convinced.

    Sutton predicts a loss and, on this occasion, I’m inclined to agree with him. The last thing we need is a draw.

    2-1 Borough for me.

  2. Badger123
    Badger123 January 6, 2024 at 2:46 pm . Reply

    I’ve just thought about Azaz again. He definitely isn’t cup-tied because Plymouth hadn’t played an FA cup game this season. So we must have had a clause added. Which seems strange, as he shouldn’t be anywhere near our level really.
    We were probably worried about him maybe doing an Archer 🙂

  3. Holte
    Holte January 6, 2024 at 2:50 pm . Reply

    Interesting stat I just read that the last time we played Middlesbrough in the FA Cup we beat them in the 4th round 3-2 at their place. It was in 1957 and we know what happened after that.

  4. OLL again
    OLL again January 6, 2024 at 2:57 pm . Reply

    As a loan player Finn Azaz would have needed AVFC permission to play in the FA Cup for Plymouth. I haven’t found out yet if he played in previous round, he was definitely in one squad. If he did not take the field he is eligible today.
    I agree with the naysayers – I don’t think Emery takes the FA cup seriously, so we may see several stiffs out today. If Marschall plays instead of Emi, then you know Emery is happy to throw it.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 5:07 pm . Reply

      Not a loan player OLL – sold him to Borough for around £2m

  5. Badger123
    Badger123 January 6, 2024 at 3:33 pm . Reply

    Now isn’t that interesting?
    I thought exactly the same OLL, so checked Plymouth’s fixtures.
    They haven’t played an FA cup game this season. Why?
    Because they’re 18th in the Championship, hence they’ve only just come into it, the same as us.
    Who knew? I certainly didn’t.
    I always had it in my head they are league 1 or even 2.

  6. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 4:45 pm . Reply

    Four changes –

    Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Lenglet, Moreno, McGinn, Kamara, Dendonker, Ramsey, Duran, Bailey

    Subs include Carlos, Luiz, Diaby, Zaniolo, Iroegbunam and Watkins

    So, given injuries, a pretty strong starting 11.

  7. Badger123
    Badger123 January 6, 2024 at 4:47 pm . Reply

    Duran starts. Shop window job? I suspect so.
    You would think we have enough there to win the game;

    Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Lenglet, Moreno, McGinn, Dendoncker, Ramsey, Kamara, Bailey, Duran.

    Subs: Marschall, Proctor, Carlos, Luiz, Iroegbunam, Diaby, Zaniolo, Watkins.

  8. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 4:48 pm . Reply

    Azaz not in team or on bench so maybe the BBC are correct that he’s ineligible

    1. Badger123
      Badger123 January 6, 2024 at 5:02 pm . Reply

      It seems it’s a clause Hitch. See above.

  9. Badger123
    Badger123 January 6, 2024 at 4:48 pm . Reply

    Oops, you beat me to it Hitch.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 5:08 pm . Reply


  10. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 6:21 pm . Reply

    What a truly awful game of football.

    I fell asleep three times!

    Play Villa – park the bus because we only play at one pace.

    Where is McGinn – completely invisible.

    And the commentators are doing my head in!

    Maybe more wine is the answer 🙂

  11. Holte
    Holte January 6, 2024 at 6:22 pm . Reply


  12. Holte
    Holte January 6, 2024 at 6:31 pm . Reply

    We are struggling against teams who put a low block against us. We need to get Cash and Moreno in the game more because it’s from crosses where we might get some success. I think Zaniolo up front would have been better to start than Duran. He has a bit more to offer IMO.

  13. Sidforever
    Sidforever January 6, 2024 at 6:36 pm . Reply

    I don’t mind us passing around the backs as long as they get the ball
    Moving forward quickly. Opposition set up defensively are in place. When slow it can be a bit tedious.

    But then again Emery gets the results.

  14. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 6:46 pm . Reply

    Where’s VAR when you need it 🙂

  15. little8
    little8 January 6, 2024 at 6:49 pm . Reply

    Ffs just like the Burnley game we cantcovert our chances ,should be 3 up here
    Getting stevenage vibes again

  16. little8
    little8 January 6, 2024 at 6:52 pm . Reply

    Much better game without shite var though
    Players seem to be playing with less fear

  17. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 January 6, 2024 at 6:53 pm . Reply

    Not impressed with the referee!

    Middlesbrough looking more likely. They’ve realised we haven’t a lot to offer!

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