Championship leaders Bournemouth FC visits Birmingham in the FA Cup 4th round on 25 January looking to apply more pressure on Villa’s manager Paul Lambert.
The PL team will surely have great home advantage but Aston Villa’s run of form can mean that the guests will feel confident of causing quite an upset.
Aston Villa – who have won the Cup 7 times in the history – are still the worst scorers in the top 4 leagues in England with only 11 goals after 22 fixtures and have not won in Premier League since December 2014.
Eddie Howe’s guests stay at the other spot of the spectrum, with most season goals than any other team in England – 57 – on the road to the top of the Championship table.
The FA Cup has given to Villa brief respite and eased the pressure on Lambert – although a 1:0 victory in a game against Blackpool didn’t give any morale boost for which a lot would have hoped.
Nevertheless, Shay Given is confident that victory on 25th January will give Aston Villa a kind of injection of confidence which they need to turn the season around.
“Football is a matter of breeding confidence,” he explained to the FC’s official web site. “If you are able to pick up victories in cup competitions, you are searching for that to filter into the EPL.
“We hope to get the right result this Sunday and after that we’ll take it into the Premier League campaign.
“We have pleasant memories of the FA Cup; the competition has a long history and many people around the world watch it. I’ve played in many games. It has a big history and we have a tremendous feel about it. You can’t stop loving playing in the FA Cup.”
The goalkeeper Given will start the game, having made his rare appearance in the 3rd round. The young player Jack Grealish may also play with Ciaran Clark back after a period of suspension. The hamstring injury seems set to rule out Joe Cole but the player Carles Gil may be handed his first start after being signed from Spanish Valencia.
Bournemouth’s progress under Howe has been great. Since taking charge, he has led them from the very bottom of League 2 to the Championship’s top – although with an unsuccessful match at Burnley.
Howe refuses to enjoy praise go to his head, although, and is fully concentrated on continuing to improve, starting with the visit to Villa Park.
“I won’t bracket myself a good boss; that is for others to decide,” he told the BBC Sport. “In managing you have to keep reproving yourself – I may share that thought improvement – because, the moment you begin thinking you’re all right, it can unravel very quickly.”
Bournemouth stay 1 point clear of Middlesbrough FC and Ipswich in the Championship just after 27 gameweeks but have lost 2 of the last three matches. That includes a 1-0 defeat to Leeds at Elland Road last Tuesday.
Prediction for Aston Villa – Bournemouth: both teams to score.