Saturday 9th January – 12:45 – Adams Park
Last year’s FA Cup finalists and seven time champions Aston Villa are hoping to put their league form aside and go on another cup run, starting with a trip to League Two side Wycombe Wanderers who are 54 places below them. The Midlands club are bottom of the Premier League having won just once all season and are 11 points from safety, but made it all the way to Wembley in 2014-15 before losing 4-0 to Arsenal in the final. Their opponents the Chairboys were defeated in the second round last season, but do have FA Cup pedigree – albeit from 15 years ago when they famously made the semi-finals when they were in League One. Currently they sit sixth in League Two in the play-offs, and have won three out of their last four games. The form of these two sides, that of the visitors in particular, makes this one of the most likely cup upsets this weekend, but Villa can take heart in the fact that they have progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup in six of the last seven seasons. But have things ever been this bad in the Midlands?
- Midfielder Marcus Bean and striker Paul Hayes are available for Wycombe after recovering from ankle problems.
- Goalkeeper Matt Ingram is suspended after being sent off against Morecambe last Saturday so Alex Lynch will start between the sticks with coach Barry Richardson, 46, is on the bench – despite not playing professionally since 2005.
- Winger Jason Banton is cup-tied, after featuring for Hartlepool United earlier on in the competition.
- The Villans are missing winger Adama Traore (broken foot), but striker Jordan Ayew and midfielder Ashley Westwood are back from suspensions.
- Midfielder Carlos Sanchez, defender Alan Hutton (both hamstring) and striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (back) are out.
- Aly Cissokho made his Villa comeback against Sunderland after boss Remi Garde recalled him from a loan at Valencia and could again feature.
The Key Battle: Michael Harriman vs Aly Cissokho
Michael Harriman is set to start his first game as a permanent Wycombe player on Saturday after signing for the club from QPR on Wednesday. He had spent the first half of the season on loan at the club, scoring six goals in 25 games as he proved his worth as both a right-back and right midfielder.
The 23 year old scored a dramatic late winner in the second round against Millwall to earn Wycombe a place in the hat, whilst he also scored at this stage of the competition last season whilst on loan at Luton against Cambridge.
With that kind of goalscoring pedigree, he is likely to start further up the pitch at Adams Park, meaning his direct opponent will be Aly Cissokho, who was recalled from his loan at Porto by Remi Garde after making just two appearances for the Portuguese club.
He made his first appearance of the season against Sunderland last weekend, and could become a regular fixture in the side due to Jordan Amavi’s season ending injury. Cissokho has previously played under Garde at Lyon, and can provide some real quality with his pace down the left hand side.
Wycombe Wanderers wins = 0 / Aston Villa wins = 2 / Draws = 0
Last Meeting: Wycombe Wanderers 3-8 Aston Villa (20th September 2005)
Aston Villa scored seven second-half goals after trailing 3-1 at half-time in the League Cup. Nathan Tyson, Roger Johnson and Tommy Mooney all scored headers for Wycombe, while a Steve Davis strike for Villa had at one point made the score 1-1. Milan Baros’ cool finish sparked the visitors’ comeback, with a James Milner shot making it 3-3, while an own goal from Craig Easton put Villa ahead. Gareth Barry then scored twice, his first with a penalty, with Milner and Davis also completing braces. [BBC]
Gareth Ainsworth: “The culture is right here and it feeds itself now. The effort, enthusiasm and togetherness of the players has never been in question. We’re hoping it will be a great occasion on Saturday, win, lose or draw but that we can retain some of those fans who come down because to have a full house is absolutely brilliant”.
Remi Garde: “We need to win because it’s a feeling that the team has been missing for too long now. It could be a boost for us. I know the players will be waiting for that, of course. But in every domestic cup competition it’s the same problem for the big teams. I know a lot about this kind of game. In every country, it’s the same when you play against lower league teams. They are extremely motivated – and I am not expecting an easy game. But I expect my team to keep the tempo that we can have in the Premier League, which is the best way to win this match. However, I am not expecting any gifts from our opponents.”
The Referee – Michael Oliver
- Last FA Cup game: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool (19th April 2015) – 1 yellow card, 0 red cards
- Last Wycombe Wanderers game: Huddersfield Town 6-0 Wycombe Wanderers (14th November 2009) – 3 yellow cards, 0 red cards
- Last Aston Villa game: Everton 4-0 Aston Villa (21st November 2015) – 0 yellow cards, 0 red cards
Stat of the Match
Aston Villa have won their last seven FA Cup ties against fourth-tier opposition, last losing to a side from that division in 1972, a 1-0 defeat at Southend in a first round game.
Where Can I Watch It?
The match is being shown live on BT Sport 2 from 12pm, with kick-off 45 minutes later. Alternatively, highlights will be shown on BBC One’s FA Cup Match of the Day on Saturday night at 10:25pm.
As a bonus, here’s a list of the rest of the televised games from this weekend’s third round action:
- Friday: Exeter City vs Liverpool – BBC One 7:30pm (kick-off 7:55pm)
- Saturday: Manchester United vs Sheffield United – BT Sport 2 5pm (kick-off 5:30pm)
- Sunday: Oxford United vs Swansea City – BBC 2 Wales 11:45am (kick-off 12pm)
- Sunday: Chelsea vs Scunthorpe United – BT Sport 2 1:30pm (kick-off 2pm)
- Sunday: Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City – BBC One 3:35pm (kick-off 4pm)
My Prediction: Wycombe Wanderers 1-2 Aston Villa
Although I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset in this tie, I think Villa will get a welcome break from the league and record a victory in the FA Cup. I think that Rudy Gestede will give Remi Garde’s team the lead before Garry Thompson levels for Wycombe. The League Two club could then threaten an upset, but Jordan Ayew will score for Villa to take them to round four. But it’s the cup, anything could, and probably will, happen!