Aston Villa: the AC Milan of the League Cup

Aston Villa don't often get to visit the Home Of Football, but their record in the League Cup is an enviable one. With League Two opposition the only obstacle between the Villans and Wembley, some fans are preparing for a party in London...
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Aston Villa don't often get to visit the Home Of Football, but their record in the League Cup is an enviable one. With League Two opposition the only obstacle between the Villans and Wembley, some fans are preparing for a party in London...

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The League Cup is a thing of beauty because Aston Villa are the AC Milan of the thing. It's in our DNA. We took it seriously in the when it started 1960s  and like AC Milan in the European Cup we can have ‘meh’ seasons and still find ourselves at the business end of the competition.

The competition provides our greatest recent memories and performances: Tranmere at home when Bosnich played like a man possessed; Dalian Atkinson scoring against Manchester United at Wembley; Savo scoring a screamer against Leeds… these moments are all in our collective memories as Villa fans.

We'll probably never win the league again in its present form, we have not won the FA Cup since Mac the Knife broke some Manchester United bones in the 1957 final and the Champions League is simply a different world.

But the League Cup - well, we can actually win it, and lady luck has helped us again by us drawing Bradford and not the infinitely better Chelsea or Swansea. That is not to say Villa fans are taking Bradford lightly, but certainly lighter than if we were lining up at Stamford Bridge tonight.

Saying that, I have not met one fan that thinks we will lose over two legs to the Bantams. People are already talking about a mega-booze in the capital. Old friends are getting in touch and asking about arrangements and feeling their wallets creak at the prospect of London beer prices.

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If it was one leg at Valley Parade then I would be worried but surely we can't balls this up. Trips to Wembley are what football is about. I'd rather not to go every year like Chelsea and Man Utd – the excitement would wear thin – but a trip every few years makes each visit unforgettable. Throw in Stiliyan Petrov leading the team out then this time could be truly special.

We've watched our young team get dicked 8-0, 4-0 and 3-0 in the last month, but this year we are unbeaten and scoring two goals a game. Unlike the Arsenal team who were beaten brilliantly by Bradford in the quarter-finals, our team should not be surprised, scared or overawed by a great atmosphere at a lower league ground because several have been plucked from the Football League.

Westwood would have seen it all at Crewe, Lowton would have done at Sheffield United and Joe Bennett at Middlesbrough. They will know what to expect and surely prevail.

If this semi-final had been last season or the season before, then I would have worried we would lose this double header. Not this season, however: not with Paul Lambert in charge. The fella is a single-minded winner. After all, he won the Champions League with Dortmund and will know a cup win with Villa will be great for his career and the club. With Darren Bent back, Andreas Weimann scoring goals and Christian Benteke to bully their defence we should prove too much for Bradford at Villa Park.

I expect an early onslaught at Valley Parade because their manager will have noticed we start very slowly but if we get through the first twenty minutes without letting in two goals, I reckon us Villa fans can really start checking our bank balances ahead of a cracking cup final against Swansea – definitely Swansea, because well Chelsea would just be rubbish. Getting to Wembley and finding out Chelsea are waiting for us would be like pulling a beautiful bird on the last night of a holiday only for her to tell you she's come on heavy.

So come on my Villa boys! Us fans don’t have much faith in you normally, so please don't let us down now that we expect.