Capital One Cup

Aston Villa v Birmingham: Unwanted midland misery hat-trick awaits

Jonathan Spector is historically at his most "prolific" in the Capital One Cup
Jonathan Spector is historically at his most "prolific" in the Capital One Cup

"Birmingham are unbeaten in six competitive away fixtures dating back to mid-April, winning four of those, and haven’t lost in three meetings with Villa."

Back Birmingham to qualify @ 2.915/8

Birmingham can party like its 2010/11 and eliminate Aston Villa from the Capital One Cup, predicts Michael Lintorn...

Aston Villa 1.991/1 v Birmingham 4.47/2; The Draw 3.711/4
Tuesday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports 1

It should be easy for Aston Villa fans to belittle their closest neighbours. After all, this is former European Cup winners against former Johnstone's Paint Trophy holders; Premier League ever-presents against a team that spent the last three campaigns mid-table or lower in the Championship.

However, there is a thorny issue denying Villa access to the full complement of second city bragging rights: while their last legitimate silverware was obtained 20 seasons ago, Birmingham lifted this trophy as recently as 2010/11, doing what their rivals couldn't and defeating Arsenal in a final.

Aston Villa

Tim Sherwood looked uncharacteristically beaten after the double whammy of the loss from 2-0 up against Leicester and meek surrender at home to West Brom though, as fear of a third derby flop in ten days grows, he reassured Villa fans with what surely qualifies as the ultimate Sherwood-ism: "Tim Sherwood is at his best when he is backed into a corner."

His ability to refresh his side is compromised by the likely unavailability of Jose Angel Crespo, Jores Okore, Gary Gardner, Idrissa Gueye and Adama Traore yet, given the significance that he is bestowing on this third-round clash, heavy rotation was probably never part of the plan anyway.


Gary Rowett's move from Burton to Birmingham appears to mark a rare outing for the "everyone's a winner" narrative in football. His previous employers managed to recruit Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and are top of League One, while the Blues have risen from 23rd in the Championship on his arrival 11 months ago to tenth by May, and are seventh with a game in hand on five of the top six this term.

Match Odds

This writer's inclination is to lay Villa, but the decision is complicated by them trading at around evens, rather than being the odds-on prospects that you might expect of a Premier League club playing host to second-tier opposition.

In addition to being fresh from two derby defeats in the Premier League, Sherwood has suffered more grudge-match disappointment in cup competitions than success. He lost his sole Capital One Cup tie as a boss against West Ham at White Hart Lane two years ago, exiting the FA Cup at Arsenal.

Villa saw off West Brom under him earlier this year on their way to the FA Cup final, yet the squad has changed beyond recognition since, as the weekend setback against the Baggies helped to show.

Birmingham are unbeaten in six competitive away fixtures dating back to mid-April, winning four of those, haven't lost in three meetings with Villa - removing them from the League Cup at St Andrew's in 2010/11 - and have been outscored in 90 minutes just once in ten Capital One Cup encounters.

As mentioned, the Villans lay price isn't the most seductive, so anything around the 2.915/8 region on the visitors progressing by any means is arguably a more enticing option.

To Score

File this one under "speculative", but Birmingham defender Jonathan Spector has more goals in his 13 career Capital One Cup starts than his 206 Premier League, Championship, FA Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup and Europa League starts combined, not to mention his 35 USA appearances.

Two of those came in a televised Tuesday night upset too, when he fired a brace past former employers and then-holders Manchester United in a ridiculous 4-0 West Ham victory in 2010/11.

The latest two second city derby goals were netted by defenders as well so, though odds of 20.019/1 or greater are understandable, this could be an entertaining long shot to invest in.

Recommended Bets:

Back Birmingham to qualify @ 2.915/8
Back Jonathan Spector to score @ 20.019/1


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.