• Villa v Tranmere match preview: Total focus required for Rovers test
  • Villa v Tranmere player preview: Baker eyes cup confidence boost
  • Villa v Tranmere memories: Big Ron on 1994 semi-final
  • Villa v Tranmere player preview: El Ahmadi calls for character

Villa v Tranmere match preview: Total focus required for Rovers test


By Paul Brown

Big teams are often vilified for underestimating the Capital One Cup - and coming a cropper.

That certainly cannot be levelled at Villa, with the determined dialogue coming out of the claret and blue camp this week.

Paul Lambert, Karim El Ahmadi and Brett Holman have all been on media duty over the last few days and their intentions are clear.

The trio are adamant Tranmere must be given total respect this evening and nothing short of a top performance will see Villa through to the third round.

El Ahmadi, goalscorer against Everton, believes Villa must treat tonight's clash as if it is the final.

"In every competition around the world, you see strange results," said El Ahmadi.

"You have to be focused and just think you're playing in the Barclays Premier League.

"The competition, like every other, is very important and we're determined to win the game.

"You see a lot of surprises in the cup competitions and perhaps we could be the big surprise this season. We must see this game in the Capital One Cup as a final."

Holman certainly agrees with mate El Ahmadi's assessment, insisting that Villa must treat Tranmere like Manchester United.

"You have to be on top of your game every single week, against every single team," added Holman.

"You cannot let-up against anyone.

"These are the games that some could underestimate and these are the games that are generally tricky. We have to give 100% like we would against Manchester United. We have to be switched on!"

Lambert, more than most, appreciates the need to be on the ball against the Super Whites.

Not only will he be looking for victory to expunge the frustration of defeat to Everton, he also wants to see Villa progress in a very prestigious competition.

Lambert is a winner. He hates to lose. And this attitude should come across loud and clear in the cup competitions this season, with strong sides very likely.

"With a club this size, you cannot take anything lightly because I'm pretty sure if I sent out a so-called weakened team and we get turned over by a so-called lower-league team, fans won't accept it," said Lambert.

"I am the same! I don't want to get knocked out of things. If you're in something, you may as well go and try and win it. There's no point entering the competition!

"It's good we don't have a week to dwell on the Everton loss. This game has come around very quickly. We will try and rectify it.

"But if we're in it, we're there to win it. We will try and win on Tuesday."


MATCH PACK

Match: Villa v Tranmere
Competition: Capital One Cup Round Two
Venue: Villa Park Date: Tuesday August 28 - ko 7.45pm
Referee: James Adcock

AVTV DON'T MISS

Tranmere Preview - click here
Tranmere 1994 Recap - click here
Guzan on Bosnich - click here

TEAM NEWS

Ciaran Clark is suspended for three matches and misses this encounter with Tranmere.

That could open the door for Nathan Baker to move across the backline to centre-half.

Long-term absentees Marc Albrighton [foot], Gabby Agbonlahor [knee] and Richard Dunne [groin] are all still out.

Former Villa academy forward Adam McGurk and Paul Black remain injury doubts for Tranmere.

TICKETS

Tickets for this match are still available.

Contact 0800 612 0970, pop into Villa Village or City Centre ticket offices or buy online - click here.

BETTING GUIDE

Ahead of the game, here are a few selections that will be on offer at the GentingCasino.com betting kiosks:

Arrow BulletVilla to beat Tranmere - 4/11
Arrow BulletDraw - 7/2
Arrow BulletVilla  to win 3-1 - 10/1
Arrow BulletDraw HT and Villa FT - 33/10
Arrow BulletBent to score first in a 3-1 win - 28/1

Click here for FAQs on betting.

Don't forget, if you win your bet, cash payment is available after the game from the North Stand payout office, which is open an hour after the game finishes.

However you are also able collect your winnings online via www.gentingcasino.com/villaclaim.

COLOURS

Villa will be wearing their home kit of claret and blue.

LAST TIME OUT

Villa 3-1 Tranmere
League Cup
Sunday February 27, 1994
Villa win 5-4 on penalties
Goals: Saunders, Teale, Atkinson, Aldridge [pen]

MATCH STATS

Villa have won four of their six meetings against Tranmere in all competitions.

The two clubs last met in a two-legged League Cup semi-final tie in 1994.

Villa were the inaugural winners of the League Cup in 1961 and have won the competition five times, most recently in 1996.

Only Liverpool have been more successful in the competition than Villa, having lifted the trophy eight times.

Villa last exited at the second-round stage in 1991, against Grimsby.

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