Aston Villa kick off their 2020/21 campaign with a short trip over to Burton Albion, where the two Midlands sides will face each other in the Carabao Cup. With Villa overwhelming favourites to win the game, we spoke to BrewersTV to get their expert opinion on how the Brewers will approach the match.
Obviously Villa and Burton have played in the past in the cup and in the Championship – how is your team doing now in comparison?
Well, obviously we are a division lower. I recall some pretty competitive games in the Championship, minus the 4-0 loss of course; it seems both teams have moved on significantly since then.
Although, I think we stand in a pretty similar place to the 18/19 season, when we beat Villa in the cup. We sit a little bit in the unknown.
How do you think Burton will get on this season?
I have been asked this question many times since the season was called short in March, and its a really tough one to answer. I feel we have made some good progress in the transfer window.
The acquisition of experienced league one players like Eardley and Bostwick have helped us strengthen defensively, and the additional flair of Lawless, Vernam and Hemmings should see us potent in attack.
However, no matter how optimistic I may be, the season will be a grind. There are plenty of good teams in the league, so the sooner we can gain some momentum, the better.
Is Nigel Clough a huge loss?
Certainly, yes. Clough did absolute wonders at the club, achieved things that he really doesn’t get credit for. Though I hope Buxton can build on the foundations, Clough will be a loss.
Unfortunately, we just have to kick on, there is little time for sentiment as we are plunged headfirst into a congested schedule.
What kind of Burton line-up are we likely to see?
I would hope, a strong one, or at least the strongest we can give. Neal Eardley limped off against Fleetwood on Saturday, and then John Joe O’Toole was sent off in the dying embers for a vicious challenge.
Furthermore, Charles Vernam, who did look promising in pre-season, will probably miss out too, after grabbing an injury in the previous round.
I’d expect a 4-3-3, though it could be subject to change. Hopefully a much more solid display than that on Saturday against Fleetwood.
Is there an upset on the cards? What are your predictions for the match?
Of course, I hope. We have a decent record of winning as underdogs; we’ve beaten Bournemouth, Burnley, Middlesborough and obviously Villa rather recently in cup competitions.
My worry would come from the physical strength of the Villa side, something we clearly aren’t up the scratch with, if the bullying from Fleetwood is anything to go buy. I do think it is a tough one to predict, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Villa played a far from full strength XI.
Unfortunately, I think beating Premier League opposition might be just too much to ask for so early in Buxton’s tenure.