Aston Villa and the first flush of youth

Villa beat Liverpool 5-0. Dave Woodhall on a night that won’t live on in history.

As you often get with cup-ties, the cliches came thick and fast before Tuesday night’s game. This time though, ‘Glamour of the Cup’ was a long way behind ‘banana skin’ and ‘no win situation’.

Both clubs had been put in an impossible situation by Liverpool’s trip to the desert and Villa, at least, went about their task with professionalism on a night when twelve thousand empty seats bore further testimony to the (non) importance of the occasion.

There were the obligatory ten changes and as might have been expected, the team got off to a slow start against opponents whose one advantage would be that they, at least, were used to playing with each other.

Villa soon got on top and if there was a touch of fortune about the opening two goals, there was nothing wrong with the pair that the returning Jonathan Kodjia picked up before half-time.

Four up at the break and the second 45 was a training exercise for both teams. Orjan Nyland picked up did well when the visitors attacked and it was also good to see the return of James Chester, who looked composed and certainly worth considering for a chance in a Premier League game. After all, he did risk his career helping us get there.

Wesley came on for the final stages and the stoppage time goal he scored was a rare positive on a night that wasn’t exactly one to forget, but neither will it be long-remembered.

And that’s perhaps just as well. In years to come, anyone reading the story of 2019-20 will see that Villa beat Liverpool 5-0 in a quarter-final and they’ll think the Villa team must have been a bit special. They won’t know that Liverpool’s players needed a note from their mums to be out after dark.

Now for the real test. Southampton will be harder and more important opponents than Liverpool. Strange days indeed.