Villa should cruise into EFL Cup second round
Bruce to pick strong side
EFL Cup first round
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 7.45pm Wednesday
Colchester's late sprint for promotion just failed last season but after failing to even leave the blocks in Saturday’s opener, there’s a rightful sense of foreboding ahead of the visit of Aston Villa in the EFL Cup.
The Us had high hopes for this term after their spring charge up Sky Bet League Two, but their opening-day 3-1 loss at Accrington, a lesson in abjectness, was a real dampener.
Abuse was hurled at boss John McGreal, his players and club officials and Villa can milk the militant mood at the Community Stadium by easing through the tie.
The Sky Bet Championship bigwigs are a 4-7 chance which is hard to dispute, especially with boss Steve Bruce saying all the right things about wanting to win and, presumably therefore, set to send out a strong side.
It might be worth getting on Villa to be up at the break and winning from there, especially with confidence fragile in the home camp, injuries starting to bite, and the makings of a defensive crisis which a side as good as the visitor ought to be able to exploit.
The playing surface, of course, is excellent so Bruce’s men can play the hosts off the park.
This isn’t a competition which shows Colchester in their best light. They’ve lost their last six ties – and Saturday’s wretched effort at the Wham Stadium won’t have raised expectations.
It’s worth reminding ourselves that they did finish last term pretty well, but they’ve seen key players leave and a string of injuries which leaves them short of quality, especially at the back.
McGreal likes a back three and wing-backs but could possibly revert to a four this evening given the dearth of fit centre-backs at his disposal. Either way, there was a sense that the team didn’t know each other at Accrington where mistakes were glaring and not many chances were created.
It’s early in the season and the first round of this competition does throw up its share of upsets – ten Championship sides were knocked out in round one last season, including Villa, who were hammered
3-1 at Luton.
That wasn’t Bruce’s side and this Villa team are unrecognisable from the shambles he inherited.
They opened up on Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Hull, a game of chances at both ends in which the draw was the right result.
Bruce has made Villa that much harder to break down – they had eight wins to nil in their last 14 league matches of 2016-17 – and the win to nil at 6-4 might be an alternative.
They boast pace out wide which, on the basis of how Colchester defended on Saturday, should have given McGreal a sleepless night.
Villa-Villa double result
1pt 29-20 Coral
Defender Tom Eastman picked up an ankle injury at Accrington. Luke Prosser, Kurtis Guthrie and Brennan Dickenson are out while Doug Loft is a doubt. Loan signing Kyel Reid could make a debut.
Jonathan Kodjia and Jack Grealish are crocked. John Terry can expect to sit this one out.
Colchester have failed to win nine of their last ten League Cup ties.