Aston Villa will be disappointed after losing out on penalties to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup third round, but Dean Smith will have a lot to be positive about too.
Cameron Archer’s equaliser cancelled out Timo Werner’s opener in the second half, but it was the hosts who prevailed in the penalty shootout at Stamford Bridge, advancing to the next round after a 4-3 success.
Naturally, Villa will be disappointed to exit the cup as it would arguably have been a target before the season started as we look to end our wait for silverware, but focus must quickly switch to Saturday as we travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the Premier League.
Villa strength in depth in squad real positive
The squad depth has really been on show since the start of the season, with Smith having to deal with injury and fitness issues while also rotating this week to keep his players fresh.
It’s a refreshing change and an important development for us to become competitive at the top level across multiple fronts, and so with key players getting minutes in midweek, it showcased how far we’ve come in that regard.
The result of course didn’t go our way, but ultimately we’ve got competition and cover across the pitch now and it’s hoped that pays dividends over the course of a gruelling campaign.
Youngsters make their case
From Archer scoring again after his hat-trick at Barrow to both Carney Chukwuemeka and Jaden Philogene-Bidace having a positive influence after coming on, it was great to see our youngsters make the most of their opportunities.
Naturally, our exit from the Carabao Cup is a blow as it means one less competition for chances to play, but they’ve shown enough to certainly make an impression on Smith and remain in his thinking moving forward.
It’s important we continue to blood our youngsters through to the senior squad, and that trio in particular can be pleased with what they showed against a top side in Chelsea this week.
Gutted to see Sanson go off
After putting in a really strong and positive 40-minute shift, it was devastating to see Morgan Sanson having to gesture to come off after picking up another knock.
It’s not yet known how serious his latest setback is, but it’s hoped that it wasn’t anything that will keep him sidelined for a prolonged period of time.
Prior to that, the Frenchman looked at home in the Villa midfield and showed good things in both phases of the game. From breaking up play and winning back possession to breaking forward and putting in through-balls for our attackers, Sanson will be a real asset for Smith when he’s at his best.
Buendia still work in progress
The level of disruption he’s had since joining with the injury over pre-season and the recent international call-up which saw him spend three weeks away from the squad have undoubtedly made his settling in period a bit trickier.
He needed minutes this week and so that was a real bonus to see him play the entire game, but it wasn’t one of his most effective games and so he’ll be disappointed he couldn’t influence it more positively.
That said, it’s hoped that it was an important step towards him rediscovering his best form, and he’ll hopefully cement his place in the side sooner rather than later by showing his quality.
Defensive duo shine
One player who looks to be getting stronger and stronger with each game is Matty Cash. After his goal last weekend, he produced a fine assist for our goal tonight, and his energy to get up and down the right flank was impressive.
Further, Kortney Hause put in a solid shift particularly given his lack of playing time this season thus far, and so to see him come in, do a job and impress was a real bonus too.
It’s hoped Cash can maintain the standard he’s now setting, while Hause will hope to get more opportunities in the coming weeks and months, especially if Villa stick with a 3-5-2 system.