I have long been on the opinion that the League Cup is only ever taken seriously by sides who find themselves in the quarter-finals. To add to this, I’d nearly suggest that losing in the *checks notes* Carabao Cup does more to focus you for your next league game; especially if you lose to a lower league side.
Birmingham City are the prime example. They were embarrassed at home to Cambridge, and then went out on beat one of the best sides in the Championship in Brentford. For this train of thought, let’s stick with another Birmingham-based side in Aston Villa, who take the trip to Burton to face off with the Albion.
The little caveat for Villa here is that they haven’t had a game in the Premier League yet and could probably do with a decent run-out beforehand. So, for as much as this game is truly in the back of Dean Smith’s mind, it likely will act as an assurance that his team get minutes into their legs.
For Burton Albion? I’m not particularly sure these nights mean anything to them either, given there’s no fans present to make a spectacle of it. Here are your three best bets.
With the arrival of Ollie Watkins, it’s very clear that the forward line at Villa is going to be shook up somewhat to allow themselves some fluidity in front of goal.
That lack of cutting edge nearly cost them last season; staying up on the final day of the season by getting the required result at West Ham saw them through in the end.
But, players who were on autopilot now really need to stake a claim, and I reckonb Trezeguet fits that description. His touches were superb last year, but certainly nowhere near consistent enough in general play to warrant him being on the teamsheet every week.
He might, and should, see this as a perfect opportunity to sneak in Dean Smith’s XI for their game next Monday against Sheffield United.
Forget the clear gap in quality, I also think there’s enough of a willingness to throw caution to the wind for these games from both sides, because they afford you a chance to try new things both defensively and going forward.
They usually either click or fail miserably, and in both cases, you find that they end up in goals.
Burton scored 50 times in League One last year, which was five more times than a pair of promoted sides in Coventry and Wycombe.
They’re not shy in front of goal, either.
Villa will be scoring a couple at Burton, but there’s a sense that perhaps they’ll take the foot off the gas with next week in mind, too.
Particularly as Smith rotates deep into the second half and things become disjointed.
I quite like this price as it fits the narrative of a likely scoreline in a game that otherwise will be a dress rehearsal for the teams.
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