Brett Holman scored in Aston Villa's quarter-final win over Norwich City. Image courtesy of skysports.com
By all rights, this League Cup tie should be a lay down misère; a Premier League club taking on fourth tier side from League Two which has only once before made the semi-finals of a major cup competition, and that was back in 1911. But giant-killing Bradford City has nothing to lose going in to the first leg of its final four clash with Aston Villa , a team which is struggling mightily in the top flight.
The Bantams have already claimed the scalps of two Premier League sides in the League Cup this season following penalty shootout wins over Wigan Athletic and Arsenal. In fact, just one of their five wins has come in regulation time. Bradford has done it the hard way with only its 3-2 win over Burton Albion in the third round and quarter-final triumph over the Gunners coming in front of their home fans at Valley Parade.
The historic venue has been a happy hunting ground for the home side this season. They’ve lost just three of their 17 starts at Valley Parade this season, but history is against teams who play at their level. Just three other teams from the fourth tier of the Football League have ever made it this far in the tournament, and only one (Rochdale in 1962) has made the final.
Before a 2-2 draw with Swansea City last start, the Villans had been in dreadful form in the EPL. An 8-0 demolition by Chelsea was followed by a 4-0 home loss to Spurs and a 3-0 defeat at Villa Park by Wigan. Their League Cup form has been good, though; a surprise 4-2 win in extra time over Manchester City was followed by 3-2 away win over Swindon Town.
Aston Villa’s 4-1 win over Norwich City in their quarter-final at Carrow Road will go down as one of its best results all season. The result allowed manager Paul Lambert to celebrate a victory at the club he left in acrimonious circumstances at the end of last season. Australian Brett Holman’s equaliser in the 21st minute was his first League Cup goal, before Villa sealed the deal with three goals in the final 11 minutes.
Villa has won all 19 League Cup ties it has played against teams from the fourth tier, and in 27 games the Birmingham side has never failed to score. The club has made the semi-finals of this tournament 13 times, but only twice has it won the first leg of a tie at this stage.
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