Last season’s finalists, Aston Villa look to avoid a cupset as they face Midlands rivals, Stoke City at Villa Park in a huge Fourth Round clash in 2020-21 Carabao Cup.
Villa are looking to reach the last eight in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2009-11 seasons, whereas Stoke are looking to advance beyond the fourth round for the first time since 2015-16 season when they lost at the semi-final stage.
Aston Villa have no fresh injury concerns as Tom Heaton remains absent but the England international is continuing to close in on a return from a serious knee injury after October’s international break.
New loan signing, Ross Barkley is unlikely to feature as he adapts to life at Villa after only joining on Wednesday morning.
Bjorn Engels (Achilles) and Wesley (knee) remain absent indefinitely.
Stoke have no fresh injury concerns although Michael O’Neill is expected to again ring the changes in squad rotation.
- Aston Villa have won their only previous League Cup meeting with Stoke City, winning 3-2 at home in the Third Round in October 1962.
- Stoke have lost just one of their last nine trips to Villa Park in all competitions (W4, D5, L1).
- Villa have won two of their last three League Cup home games against Championship opposition of the time, dating back to October 2010 when they beat Burnley of then Championship 2-1 after extra time.
Villa were absolutely ruthless at Fulham on Monday and with the addition of Ross Barkley, I can see Dean Smith’s team going from strength to strength and if Barkley does start alongside Jack Grealish and Bertrand Traore amongst others then Stoke are in for a rough match.
Saying that, Stoke did come through a tightly fought match at Preston on Saturday with a clinical victory plus have already knocked out fellow Midlands rival, Wolves so will definitely be up for this plus have advantage of extra preparation time.
This therefore might well be a tough encounter for Villa if they aren’t careful but I have a feeling that they will find a way through.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Stoke City
Result: Aston Villa 0-1 Stoke City