Aston Villa 0-1 Leyton Orient read the Villa Park scoreboard at 9:15 p.m. GMT Wednesday evening. Only those in attendance saw what happened on the pitch, the rest of us had to tune in to a radio broadcast, available on Aston Villa's official website: AVTV. Not many League Cup matches are televised, and in this case it was probably for the better.
Losing to a side from the third division is a definite cause for concern. Sure the team wasn't first choice, but they really should be beating a side like Leyton Orient, no disrespect meant to the O's. One goal was all that it took to win it, and from what I heard, Aston Villa squandered some chances. Still just 18, Jack Grealish had a chance or two that wasn't converted, and that is what you expect to see in this competition. But as senior pros like Darren Bent and Leandro Bacuna continued to miss chance after chance, you wonder what manager Paul Lambert can do until Christian Benteke returns in about 50 days.
There's something to be said for defensive solidity, and to be fair, Aston Villa hadn't conceded a goal since shipping four to Groningen in a preseason friendly on 2 August. Back-to-back clean sheets to start the season away at Stoke City and home to Newcastle weren't easy to keep. However, when the backline is at full strength with Vlaar and Cissokho rather than Nathan Baker and Kieran Richardson, goals should be slightly more preventable. The 4-2-3-1 has been good so far this season, but is it time to shake things up?
Hull City go with a 3-5-2 formation, relying on attacks from their wingbacks, notably Ahmed Elmohamady on the right side. They may have lost striker Shane Long over the summer, but they still have Nikica Jelavić and the rest of the squad was strengthened. Purchases like Michael Dawson at centre back from Spurs, and Tom Ince, joining from Blackpool, should provide some creative influence.
Against a 3-5-2, formations with three central defenders work well, so Lambert may also deploy this formation. He could choose to stick with the 4-2-3-1, but a formation with two strikers surely would be better than letting Gabby Agbonlahor sprint around aimlessly while not getting onto the end of crosses. If Jores Okore is healthy, a 3-5-2 would actually also make sense.
Ron Vlaar faces a late fitness test and newly established left back Aly Cissokho may miss this match as well. If Vlaar and Okore are healthy, and Cissokho is not, the 3-5-2 should be chosen because Richardson can play LWB and Bacuna can play RWB, with three useful central defenders being deployed. In midfield, Carlos Sanchez would free Fabian Delph to make forward runs. Charles N'Zogbia could be used in a free role behind the two strikers, Darren Bent and Andi Weimann, with plenty of forward options available off the bench.
Unfortunately, Okore probably isn't good to go, which means any shape with three at the back should be avoided. I think seeing a similar 4-2-3-1 to what we have already seen this season is fairly likely, but doesn't mean it is necessarily the best choice.
Possible starting lineups:
What would you do if you were in charge? Let us know in the comments!
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