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Whilst there is the somewhat annoying devaluation of the FA Cup, for many fans, this blog included, the FA Cup is an important competition.
Yes the competition has been a source of hurt since our last victory in 1957, with a painful memory of a 4-0 drubbing to Arsenal in our last final. However, there are also great recent footnotes to recall, including matches that will live long in Villa folklore; think beating Albion at Villa Park, or outplaying Liverpool at Wembley.
Alas, much has changed, as have arguably our football clubs priorities and needs in the here and now.
Expect Dean Smith to rotate the squad for this game, firstly to protect key players but also to regroup after a festive period that hasn’t seen Villa make in-roads into the Playoffs.
This though will hopefully play to our advantage, with a number of fringe players, some returning injuries [Lansbury reportedly one] and youth more than likely to feature.
Equally, this could bring imbalance. A team that featured the much hyped Callum O’Hare and the experienced John Terry fell to Peterborough last season. It was a result and performance that was too readily brushed off at the time, in what was a 3-1 humiliation at Villa Park to lower league opposition.
This time round, the outlook and intent amongst the coaching staff towards games seems different. Smith tries to set us up to scores goals, but when it doesn’t work, hasn’t resorted to making excuses post-match either.
Finally, a cup run, whilst to some a distraction from our aspiration to get out of The Championship, has the ability to galvanise a team and a winning mentality.
Tim Sherwood, though far far from perfect, used this to his and Villa’s advantage, seizing upon the momentum of an FA Cup run to somehow keep Villa in the Premier League in 2015.
With 35,000+ expected at Villa Park, it also represents an opportunity to show many fans that Villa is and will change under Smith’s stewardship.
The enforced rotation won’t necessarily make this a fluid match, but it’s a chance to seize in front of sceptical returning home fans – and as importantly – many youngsters who will likely be taking advantage of free and reduced price tickets.
With that in mind, progression to the next round, would be very welcome indeed.
- New signing Lovre Kalinic may make his home debut.
- Villa have sold / gifted over 35,000 tickets – after rebutting an offer for the game to be screened on TV.
- Villa have reciprocated this for visiting Swansea supporters.
- Scott Hogan, a former favourite of Smith’s at Brentford, is expected to start.
- Tammy Abraham will not feature. This is a term of his loan and not connected to any transfer.
- Henri Lansbury likely to feature after overcoming a hamstring injury.
- 3rd meeting in last 3 months between sides. Villa won both games 1-0.
- Two points separate the sides in The Championship.
- Swansea got to the quarter finals last year, losing to Spurs.
- Villa were knocked out in the 3rd round last season by Peterborough.