Aston Villa Home Capital One Cup
Sometimes Ronald Koeman seems to treat the Capital One Cup with respect, and at others he can’t resist the temptation to rest the weary and try out the under-used. For the visit of Aston Villa in round four, the latter tactic prevailed with Yoshida, Targett, Caulker, Romeu, Ramirez and Juanmi Lopez all joining a side captained by Wanyama. There’s always a chance that such a selection may produce the feeling of a practice match and that’s the way this one was drifting in a first half clearly won by beleaguered and managerless Villa: match stats showed them ‘ahead’ by two on-goal shots to nil, and five overall shots one. They must have counted a free kick sent well over the bar by Ramirez for that one, but tactical fine tuning at half time saw Ramirez and Ward-Prowse swapping positions at will, and it produced the opening goal via an assist from Ramirez, although 99% of the credit must go to Yoshida, whose determined run from right back and exchange of passes was finished with a fine left foot shot. The scoreline may have delayed Saints’ substitutions but they duly arrived in the shape of Davis and Tadic to provide the clearly frustrated Pelle with better support. The new combination brought about the decisive second goal when a long pass by Davis found Tadic with Pelle well placed: Tadic and Graziano had more than enough magic and experience to account for Villa’s back line, and Pelle finished the move with a volley. It only remained for Saints to see out time, which they managed down to within the last minute of added time when Ayew shrugged off Targett and was halted by Van Dijk, who seemed to get a lot of the ball, but not enough to persuade referee Styles not to give a penalty. Sinclair converted from the spot to finish the scoring at 2-1.
Man of the Match: Victor Wanyama, who seemed to thwart most of Villa’s threats