Aston Villa take on Man Utd for the second time in five days on Thursday as we travel to Old Trafford for our League Cup encounter.
Unai Emery’s reign got off to the perfect start on Sunday as we secured a 3-1 win in the Premier League meeting, and so confidence should be high off the back of that excellent performance.
However, the Villa boss reiterated after the game how it was merely just a first step, and the challenge now is to show consistency and follow that result up in our next two games before the World Cup break.
Having made no secret of his desire to win a trophy as Villa boss in his first interview after taking charge, Emery will no doubt put a strong XI out in midweek despite the fact we play again on Sunday – albeit he will be forced into one change – while it remains to be seen how much rotation he opts for.
Dendoncker, Bednarek cup-tied, Coutinho out with injury
Aside from long-term absentee Diego Carlos, Villa will also be without Philippe Coutinho. Emery confirmed in his post-match interview on Sunday that the Brazilian playmaker was left out of the squad at the weekend after suffering a quad injury in training last week which will sideline him until after the break.
Additionally, neither Leander Dendoncker nor Jan Bednarek will feature as they are both cup-tied, and so there will have to be a key change in midfield with the former impressing in recent games.
The expectation is that Emery will name as close to a full-strength XI as possible, and so it would come as no surprise if we see the same backline feature at Old Trafford. Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Lucas Digne impressed this past weekend in front of Emi Martinez, and so there doesn’t seem to be a need to change too much.
Emery does have a big decision in midfield though as Boubacar Kamara made his comeback from injury on Sunday, while John McGinn and Morgan Sanson also got minutes.
Kamara would seem the most likely option, but given his lack of playing time over the last two months, it’s a gamble that he will be capable of keeping up with the pace of the game so soon after returning.
Douglas Luiz will hope to keep his spot in the midfield pivot, while Jacob Ramsey, Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins were all excellent last time out, and so if they have come through without any knocks that might concern the medical staff this week, they could – and arguably should – get the chance to go back up their previous performances.
Substitutes will no doubt be crucial in this game and so expect Emery to tweak things and hopefully be in a position to take players off and rest them in the latter stages, while he’ll want to get a close look at others in his squad too before the break.
However, it could be a very similar Villa XI that he goes for, as all concerned will be desperate to get past this test and keep our hopes of a strong cup run alive.