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Aston Villa and Everton, both on cloud nine after their respective Premier League wins at the weekend, are set to meet on Wednesday at Villa Park in the third round of EFL Cup.
The Toffees defeated Brentford 3-1 at the Gtech Community Stadium to claim their first Premier League win of the year, while Aston Villa head into the game on the back of a 1-0 win away to Chelsea.
Aston Villa qualified for the Europa Conference League, which allowed them to skip the first two rounds in the EFL Cup. However, Legia Warsaw gave them a hard welcome to continental competition, winning 3-2 on Thursday.
Chelsea were looking to inflict a third away defeat in a row on Unai Emery’s side but another disappointing display from the five-time Premier League champions meant that the Villans were able to take all three points away from the game.
Ollie Watkins, who had yet to score in the Premier League 2023-24 before his team’s trip to Stamford Bridge, bagged the winner. The Englishman’s first attempt at scoring his opening goal of the season was blocked, but he got a second chance and finished expertly with a tight angle and only Robert Sanchez’s crucial interventions saved Chelsea from a more humiliating afternoon. Villa won their fourth victory in six Premier League matches to secure a sixth place standing in the Premier League table.
The hosts, who are riding a 10-game winning streak at Villa Park and haven’t lost in front their own fans since a 4-2 loss to Arsenal in February, will also be looking to avoid their third consecutive exit from the EFL Cup after being eliminated by Manchester United in their previous two third-round matches.
Everton’s first win this season was sparked by a player who wore the red and white for Brentford between 2014 and 2016. James Tarkowski, who played in the English capital from 2014 to 2016, scored and assisted to mark his return.
Tarkowski capitalized on Brentford’s injury woes, which included Kevin Schade suffering a groin injury in warm-up. Abdoulaye Doucoure scored first but Mathias Jensen brought the Bees even before the half-time break.
Tarkowski, however, celebrated against his former employers, after he rose highest to nod in from a corner. Dominic Calvert-Lewin then rounded out the Toffees’ win, which lifted them from danger and into 15th position.
Everton only achieved one win in 2023-24, a narrow 2-1 EFL Cup win over Doncaster Rovers in the third round and Sean Dyche’s team is still without a single clean sheet in this season, ahead of the daunting trip to Villa Park.
Aston Villa’s players didn’t report any new injury problems following their victory against Chelsea. Emery is left with five injury concerns, including Emiliano Buendia, who has been suffering from knee injuries for a long time, and Tyrone Mings.
Diego Carlos, Timothy Iroegbunam, and Bertrand Traore are all out of the picture at the moment. Bertrand Traore will also need to be given a thorough check in the hours leading up to the game.
Emery is expected to give chances to Jhon Duran and Leon Bailey. Jacob Ramsey, Youri Tiedmans, Clement Lenglet and Lucas Digne may start the match against their old club as Alex Moreno, who has been recovering from a hamstring injury, was not ready to face Chelsea.
Ashley Young, a former full-back who left the West Midlands in the summer, will return to his old club on Wednesday. However, he is just one of many players due for a rest.
Everton manager Dyche is still without Dele Alli and Seamus Coleman due to injuries. The midweek match will also be too early for Jack Harrison. Andre Gomes, who has a calf injury, will be at best a sub.
Calvert-Lewin will get a rare chance to start as he tries to overcome his injury problems. Dyche is open to the idea of using a strikeforce consisting of two players, so Beto or Youssef Chreti could join the Englishman at Villa Park.
Villa Park has seen plenty of knockouts, including the Lions’ FA Cup giant-killing against Stevenage back in January. But we can’t see a happy end for Wednesday’s match.
We expect Villa to comfortably advance to the next round, despite the fact that two teams will be changed dramatically on the field.
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