Enter final as heavy outsiders and expected to use ‘park the bus’ tactics. In trouble in the league where 3 consecutive defeats suffered. Wesley and Heaton long-term absentees. McGinn major doubt. El Ghazi fresh concern.
Villa defied odds to reach final, with negative defensive tactics in both legs of semi-final vs. Leicester what got Villains to Wembley. Defended for dear life in those games to somehow edge tie 3:2 on aggregate.
Hourihane has been excellent in League Cup run to final, he has 4 goals and 2 assists in this competition alone.
Premier League struggles continue though. Sit in relegation zone and suffered 3 consecutive defeats. Also in mid-January humiliated in 1:6 home league loss vs. Man City.
Coach Smith expected to once again ask at least 8-9 of his field players to sit deep and simply frustrate Man City.
El Ghazi picked up head injury last weekend, but he hopes to be fit on time. McGinn trains again after long spell out, but playing in this final would be pushing it for him. Wesley and Heaton continue rehabilitation.
"I like being the underdog because we can go out and play without anyone expecting us to win, but we have also have that drive to prove people wrong."