Wolverhampton Wanderers met Aston Villa tonight at Villa Park for their first meeting since the 2017/2018 season.
Nuno Espírito Santo shocked fans by introducing four teenagers into the starting eleven, including 16-year-old Chem Campbell. Not only that but the Portuguese manager implemented a real revolution in the starting team, bringing in usual substitutes Max Kilman, Ruben Vinagre, Jesus Vallejo and John Ruddy.
Villa also fielded a different team from the one who lost against Manchester City for the Premier League which meant that this would not be the derby everyone was expecting.
Story of the game
Despite some good plays, the first half was void of real scoring opportunities. Due to the lack of rhythm of most players, both sides had difficulties asserting their usual styles of play. That, however, didn’t stop Villa from going in front 28 minutes into the game.
Anwar El Ghazi was on the end of a “sugary” through ball from Henri Lansbury and easily got it past Ruddy to make it 1-0 on the night.
Wolverhampton tried to rally back and get the equalizer before halftime but the home team controlled possession and went into the break ahead
The second half began and Wolves got their equalizer. Patrick Cutrone was on the end of a cross/shot from Taylor Perry and slightly tapped it in making it 1-1. The away fans exploded with joy but it would be short-lasting as three minutes later Villa’s captain Ahmed Elmohamady would give his team the lead once again after scoring following a free-kick from Lansbury.
Wolverhampton found themselves trailing again but their play didn’t match the result. Both teams traded counter-attacks and Cutrone had several chances to score the equalizer once again but kept hitting goalkeeper Jed Steer who, besides the goal, had a very calm evening.
The score would suffer any changes and so Villa advance to the quarter-finals while Wolves change their focus to the Premier League and the Europa League.
Takeaways from the game
Wolves have quality but lack experience
After this game, it is clear that Wolves' squad isn't as deep as we expected. Besides their 15-men core, the team struggles every time one or more starters are unavailable and there isn't a clear second option for every position.
Although the Carabao Cup is far from being a priority and Nuno Espirito Santo has his sights focused on the Premier League and the Europa League, a derby is still a derby, and with just a few changes, Wolves could be the ones celebrating their passage to the quarter-finals.
Man of the Match
The Villa midfielder had quite a night. Two assists and several key passes, he owned the intermediate part of the pitch and commanded the offence as a general commands an army.
Following this game, it will be hard for Dean Smith to leave him off the field again as Lansbury has yet to make a start in the Premier League this season.