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Preview: Post-Sherwood era starts at Southampton in Capital One Cup

Aston Villa head to Southampton tomorrow night for Fourth Round action in the Capital One Cup. Can they spring an upset in the first match of the post-Sherwood era?

Graziano Pellé scores Southampton’s sixth during the trouncing back in May. With Sadio Mané out, Pellé could be the key player for Saints in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup Fourth Round fixture.
Graziano Pellé scores Southampton’s sixth during the trouncing back in May. With Sadio Mané out, Pellé could be the key player for Saints in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup Fourth Round fixture.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Aston Villa are a win tomorrow from a cup quarter-final.

Wait, what?

Don’t you just love the Capital One Cup?

What to know about Aston Villa

In the past, I haven’t known what to put here because Tim Sherwood didn’t know what his best XI was at the Villa — and probably never found it.

But he’s gone now, which means I really don’t know what Kevin MacDonald will prioritize when he names a lineup tomorrow at the St. Mary’s. Will he go for pace to play on the counter? Or will he keep playing Rudy Gestede as a target man?

(Please don’t keep doing that, Kevin.)

Ciaran Clark, Thiago Ilori and Jores Okore could all use a run out at centre back — will any of them get a look in ahead of Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards? I hope so, especially given the less-important nature of this match.

Mark Bunn should get the start in goal with it being a cup match, and I’d love to see Jordan Veretout get a look in. Our Jack Grimse took a look at what K-Mac might do tactically, so check that out if you’re so inclined.

Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how the Villa squad performs tomorrow night with Sherwood gone. How will the veterans, and the youngsters, carry on without him? Time will tell.

What to know about Southampton

Ah, yes. The club Villa should be aspiring to be like is the opponent in the Fourth Round of the League Cup. Fun!

It’ll be a tricky trip to the St. Mary’s no matter what happens — but as Villa have shown in the past, getting a win down on the South Coast is certainly possible. Though that was through the best display of counterattacking football I’ve ever seen out of Villa… less than 30% possession and three goals.

The last fun moment of the Paul Lambert era.

I’m gonna get out of flashback mode though and move to something that immensely helps Villa this year: Sadio Mané, scorer of five in five (and three in four minutes against Villa in May), is suspended for this tie.

Huzzah!

There are two sides this year for which 60% or more of their "danger zone" shots have been assisted by crosses — Aston Villa and Southampton. While I could see that changing for Villa, I don’t for Saints: If he plays, which he should with Southampton’s other top goalscoring threat out, expect a heavy dose of crosses in for Graziano Pellé waiting in the middle.

The odds

Paddy Power: Southampton 2/5, Villa 7/1, Draw 7/2
SkyBet: Southampton 2/5, Villa 7/1, Draw 7/2

The prediction

There are long odds on Villa here, and they’re very well deserved. Southampton are a better-run club than Villa in every sense possible, and it’s going to be a tough ask to get a result at the South Coast. Pellé’s brace leads Saints to the quarter-final.

Southampton 3, Villa 1.