On paper, most people would assume that this would be a relatively straightforward game for Aston Villa, with the Villains a whole division higher than their opponents. However, with the club struggling in the top flight, and Bournemouth currently topping the Championship, there are suspicions that a real cup upset could be on the cards this Sunday.
When you look at the situation that Villa find themselves in, it’s really no surprise. Paul Lambert’s men currently sit just three points above the drop zone, even though they started the 2014/15 campaign in fine form. Over recent months the wheels have fallen off spectacularly though and there are suspicions that Lambert might be wary of his own future, particularly if the club suffer another defeat this weekend. If we look to the club’s recent form, the only shining light has been a slender victory over Blackpool in the previous round of this competition. Ignoring that, the Villains have not won since the start of December, while they haven’t hit the back of the net in their last five top flight games. It makes for grim reading – but prompts the perfect cup upset opportunity.
In fact, opponents Bournemouth will probably be desperate to test their ability against a side who are struggling in a superior division. The Cherries may have been playing League One football a couple of years ago, but they look on course to replicate the success of fellow South Coast outfit Southampton by making a serious promotion push. Eddie Howe’s men currently top the Championship, although a couple of defeats over recent weeks has seen their lead slip to one point. They’ve lost to both Leeds and Norwich, with these results resulting in an end to their six game winning run.
Something that hasn’t helped Aston Villa’s cause over recent weeks is their injury list and again, it’s showing no signs of easing up. Gabby Agbonlahor, Joe Cole, Ron Vlaar, Libor Kozak and Philippe Senderos are all on the treatment table, leaving Paul Lambert desperately short of numbers. The only positivity revolves around Ciaran Clark, who returns to the reckoning after suspension. Bournemouth meanwhile are reportedly considering resting players, in a bid to keep their promotion charge on track. There is little team news to report in the way of injury and suspension, although Artur Boruc and Dan Gosling are supposedly set to benefit from Howe’s rotation policy.
As for a prediction, we think the stage is set for a cup upset this weekend. Aston Villa don’t know where their next goal is going to come from, while Bournemouth are the surprise package this term. Bearing this in mind, our prediction is going to be a 2-1 win for Eddie Howe’s side on Sunday.