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  • Aston Villa v Bradford, Capital One Cup

Lambert hopes for season-defining turnaround

ESPN staff
January 22, 2013
Can Aston Villa bounce back against Bradford, or will a surprise win be completed? © Getty Images
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Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert admits overcoming Bradford in Tuesday's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg could help turn the club's whole season around.

Villa have to recover from losing the first leg 3-1 to the League Two side at Valley Parade a fortnight ago. But Lambert believes reaching Wembley can also have a positive impact on Villa's other main battle - Premier League survival.

"I don't sense any apprehension at all," he said. "I just feel we are ready for it and we know what we have to go and do. I am pretty sure everyone will make us favourites to turn it around. I think everyone will do that. In a cup game anything can happen but, with a big pitch and a crowd behind us, hopefully we will be able to score more than we did up in Bradford.

"We had a lot of chances up at Bradford. If we can create that amount of chances, then we'll be close. If we get through, the confidence will be great. The feeling around the club will be massive. It will be a great thing. It can definitely play a huge part in the season turning [around].

Head-to-head battles

  • Shay Given v Nahki Wells

    The goalkeeper needs to keep a clean sheet

  • Gabriel Agbonlahor v Rory McArdle

    The forward's pace should stretch Bradford

  • Fabian Delph v Gareth Jones

    The erratic youngster and the wily veteran

"Bradford's form is probably not as good as they would like it to be. It can happen. You have a big night against someone midweek and you go and lose your next league game because it's hard to sustain that level. But it's about us and what we do. It's our home game and we know what we have to go and do.''

Form

Villa have played five times so far in 2013, losing twice - once to Bradford in the first leg, and once to Southampton in the league. Other than that they have picked up a couple of draws (against Swansea and, on Saturday, West Brom), with the solitary victory coming against Championship side Ipswich in the third round of the FA Cup.

The Bantams have played the same number of times in January but, after starting with a draw and a win against League Two opposition, have not tasted victory since that memorable first leg. A subsequent home defeat to Oxford was followed by a Johnstone's Paint Trophy hammering at the hands of Crewe - although the players have had a week to prepare for this game, after Saturday's meeting with Port Vale was postponed due to a frozen pitch.

Team news

Villa striker Andreas Weimann is available after illness. Weimann scored Villa's only goal in the first leg. Defender Nathan Baker (hamstring) has been ruled out and midfielder Ashley Westwood is cup-tied, while Lambert will make late fitness checks on goalkeeper Shay Given (hamstring) and midfielder Fabian Delph (ankle).

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson could hand a debut to new signing Michael Nelson. Centre-half Nelson, 32, signed an 18-month contract at Valley Parade last week after Bradford agreed an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £30,000, with Scottish Premier League side Kilmarnock.

Parkinson has no new injury or suspension problems following last week's JPT defeat at Crewe, while several players will have had chance to rest various bumps and bruises following the postponement of the Vale game.

Goalkeeper Matt Duke, defender Rory McArdle and skipper Gary Jones are expected to return to the starting line-up, while winger Kyel Reid and on-loan Newcastle defender Curtis Good are hoping to keep their places in the side.

One to watch

Christian Benteke has been at the heart of nearly everything good Aston Villa have done this season, with the young Belgian possessing the combination of raw power and an instinctual eye for goal that bodes well for his future career. But a Wembley final is on the cards if he can produce on Tuesday night and, with goals looking scarce elsewhere in the current side, it could prove down to him to deliver.

Key battle

He still struggles to get near a starting lineup for Lambert, but Darren Bent has featured in the last three of Villa's cup ties and, while he may only get a few minutes, could prove crucial in turning a tie that is still very much alive despite the current aggregate scoreline. The England international's finishing is a weapon Lambert will be ready and willing to use late in the game - after scoring late in the first leg, Carl McHugh's primary responsibility at Villa Park will surely be to prevent the opposing frontline from doing the same this time around.

Prediction and bet

The scoreline from the first leg tells one story, but the reality is that Villa had enough of the play to win at Valley Parade on another day. In front of their home supporters they should not succumb to such misfortune again - we can see them winning through to Wembley with a 4-1 win (perhaps after extra-time), which certainly intrigues at 16/1 with bet365.

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