Expect a host of squad changes when Aston Villa visit League Two Barrow A.F.C. in the second round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening.
Villa, fresh off their first victory of the season on Saturday, meet a Barrow side that defeated Scunthorpe United, 1-0, in the tournament’s first round. The Bluebirds are currently in 16th place in League Two with four points from four games.
Barrow were defeated by Harrogate Town, 2-1, in their last league match on August 21.
For Aston Villa, a cup tie with Barrow is an opportunity to rotate the squad
Villa manager Dean Smith is sure to make a host of changes to his starting XI with the likes of Wesley, Carney Chukwuemeka, and Kortney Hause expected to factor.
The trio will headline a fresh squad that has largely missed out on first-team action through the first two games of the 2021/22 Premier League season.
Wesley made a brief appearance in Villa’s 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday, as did Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Axel Tuanzebe, who are both expected to play on Tuesday.
The run-in with Barrow could prove useful for the likes of Matt Targett, who has struggled for form and fitness and made way at halftime following an abysmal performance in a 3-2 loss at Watford on August 14. The left back missed out on the Newcastle match entirely.
Wantaways Frederic Guilbert and Connor Hourihane are likely to start in what could be their final appearances for the club. Guilbert hasn’t seen regular playing time for Villa since the 2019/20 campaign, and he and Hourihane both spent the second half of last season out on loan.
Aaron Ramsey could make a cameo following an impressive preseason with the first team. The younger brother of Jacob Ramsey, Aaron scored a screamer in the U23’s 2-1 win over Middlesborough on Friday.
As per @pgr_analytics on Twitter, 56% of Barrow’s expected goals (xG) have been generated from set-pieces. We’ve seen a set-piece renaissance at Aston Villa under the tutelage of newly-appointed set-piece coach Austin MacPhee. Both goals vs. Newcastle came off of set pieces, and Barrow should offer a good test for Villa.
Barrow’s main man this season has been 24-year-old forward Offrande Zanzala, who leads the team with two goals in four league appearances. A native of Brazzaville, Congo, Zanzala played his youth football at Derby County.
Aston Villa projected Starting XI: Steer; Guilbert, Tuanzebe, Hause, Targett; Hourihane, Nakamba, Chukwuemeka; Philogene-Bidace, Wesley, A. Ramsey
Barrow projected Starting XI: Farman; Brown, Ellis, Grayson; Hutton, Banks, White, Brough; Gordon, Zanzala, Williams
Date/time: Tuesday, August 24 at 7:45 PM BST/2:45 AM EST
Ground: Holker Street
TV/Streaming UK: SkySports
TV/Streaming US: ESPN+