Aston Villa traveled to Southampton on a Wednesday night in the Capital One Cup. And before we go any further, I want to start this report with the most deserved praise possible. With Villa sitting 20th in the league, no manager, and a Wednesday-night trip to Southampton for the freaking League Cup, there were STILL 3,100 away fans at St. Mary's stadium. And for most of the match, they were louder than a large home side. No matter what happens to this club it's nice to know that we still have the best fans in football.
Now, onto the match. The lineup was... suspect. A starting eleven that featured FOUR full-backs (Alan Hutton and Jordan Amavi in their correct positions and Leandro Bacuna and Kieran Richardson bumped forward) was roundly criticized on twitter. But for the first forty-five minutes, Villa very clearly had the upper hand. Unfortunately, as we've become so used to, Villa couldn't capitalize on their advantage.
Interestingly, the move of having the four full backs provided tons of width, and Carlos Sanchez and Ashley Westwood were able to make the most of their space in the centre of the park. It's not a formation I'd go with all of the time, but I can see how it could be useful.
But, as these things tend to do, it started to come unraveled in the second half. In the 51st minute, Southampton centre back Maya Yoshida (quite possibly the worst player on the pitch) managed to tear through the Villa midfield and get himself some space about twenty yards from the goal. Jose Angel Crespo came running up to try and block the inevitable shot, but he foresaw what was about to happen and turned his back rather than trying to get in front of the rocket that grazed the right post and went in.
Then, after not doing too much, Aston Villa decided to have another defensive collapse in the 77th minute. Graziano Pellè managed to make the most of it and put Southampton ahead 2-0. Villa did manage a consolation goal in the dying seconds when Jordan Ayew made a mazy run into the box and got chopped down. Scott Sinclair managed to convert the penalty.
So that's the League Cup then. Fine. Whatever. Villa are struggling to save themselves and not having midweek competition that take focus away from the big picture is probably a good thing. Sam Tighe had this to say on twitter:
FA Cup is played on weekends, better to manage. C1 Cup is midweek, distracting and the semi is two legs at an awkward time. Leave it. #AVFC— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) October 28, 2015
And I couldn't agree more. We've got no manager and we played a bizarre lineup in a midweek cup match. We lost. I'm not too bothered by that. Get a new manager, win a few league matches, and we'll all have forgotten this by December. And hey, at least we got booted from the cup by a Premier League team!