Aston Villa face Stevenage in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday evening, and Unai Emery has noted he will make changes to the starting XI.
The Villa boss emphasised his desire to win a trophy during his time at the club at his unveiling press conference in November, and so he’ll no doubt be taking this game seriously and wanting to put together a strong Cup run.
However, it’s a fine balancing act given our hectic Premier League schedule, and so there will be a need to rotate and rest players, while also giving others an opportunity to stake their claim for a bigger role.
Emery on changes, Jacob Ramsey boost
Speaking to the media ahead of the game, as per Villa TV, Emery said: “Yes [he expects to make changes], but I want to win. And I am going to use players thinking how we can play – controlling the match, good positioning.
“Trying to give players experience, maybe young players, but overall in the qualities and skills how we can play like I want to create or to build in this team. And I want to use the players we did (against Wolves).
“We can add, I think, maybe, Jacob Ramsey, which is good. After one month without him, it’s going to be important as well to add him.”
It’s a major boost to have Ramsey back available, and ideally he’ll be fit enough to make the Villa XI, as opposed to being limited off the bench in the latter stages. Nevertheless, the medical staff will know how much he can manage on his comeback from a hamstring injury.
Possible Villa XI vs Stevenage
Looking at the Villa XI as a whole though, there are some perhaps more obvious changes that Emery can make, and some less so depending on how close to his strongest line-up he wants to go with.
Robin Olsen is likely to come back between the posts having impressed Emery in our win over Tottenham, and although Matty Cash completed a full 90 minutes against Wolves, he didn’t feature heavily in the games previous to that and so could do with another lengthy run-out.
Calum Chambers could be in line to come in and would potentially be a like-for-like change with Ezri Konsa, and while Tyrone Mings might keep his place to give us some stability and continuity, Ludwig Augustinsson replacing Lucas Digne seems like another straight-forward decision.
Moving into midfield, Leon Bailey could do with staying in the line-up after looking distraught following his late miss vs Wolves, and so he’ll no doubt be itching to be involved as soon as possible and get a confidence boost. Meanwhile, Leander Dendoncker came on in that game and can provide us with physicality and defensive cover in midfield, with Douglas Luiz possibly keeping his spot to give us control of the game.
It’s hoped Ramsey is fit enough to start and that could see him feature on the left side, with Philippe Coutinho supporting Danny Ings in the final third as Emery shuffles things around in that area of the pitch.
Jan Bednarek, Morgan Sanson and Marvelous Nakamba will all be hoping to be involved too, but it remains to be seen if Emery is confident enough to make many more changes beyond those noted below. That’s still a very strong Villa XI, and it should be too much for Stevenage to ensure we advance to the next round.