There’s something quite nostalgic about an FA Cup replay. Replays were a routine norm back in the day, but with bulging fixture lists and the gradual erosion of the domestic cups stature, they’ve fallen out of vogue.
In any event, Villa and Chelsea have exactly this on their hands this Wednesday evening at Villa Park. It’s a rare opportunity for the club to reach the 5th Round and with the visitors failing to ignite their season in the league, Chelsea’s latest boss Mauricio Pochettino is having to provide reassurances that the owners have promised not to sack him (*albeit via text).
After The Blues uptick in results after poor early season form, defeats to Wolves and Liverpool have soured the tone at the London club.Embed from Getty Images
Villa on the other hand are in better shape having handed out a “merciless” mauling of Premier League strugglers Sheffield United. The 5-0 away defeat was a demolition job, resetting the atmosphere following a stagnation of results and individual form.
This result lifted Villa back into the Champions League places but has come at a price as injuries throughout the squad begin to mount. The latest absentee is Ezri Konsa, who sustained a seemingly innocuous injury having collided with the upright at Bramall Lane. The 26-year-old, rewarded for a string of outstanding displays with an England call-up, could be out for the longer term with the severity of a knee injury under observation.
Pau Torres has resumed training but you wouldn’t imagine will be risked from the bench unless absolutely necessary. Lucas Digne remains sidelined too. It’s hard to look past Matty Cash being recalled to the first team at right back, but Carlos and Kesler are options that shouldn’t be discounted.
Ultimately, if Villa can channel our early season qualities and find something of the flair on display during the win over Sheffield United, then we should be in good shape. Chelsea though, are an unpredictable, £1 billion pound investment that shouldn’t be under-estimated on the night either.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Chelsea