Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
An all-Midlands clash at Villa Park offers a fascinating battle between sides at opposite ends of the table. All things being equal, you would expect Leicester – who are practically certain of taking one of the four Champions League slots in the Premier League – to easily progress to the Carabao Cup final. However, that was the received wisdom before the first leg of this clash, and the Foxes ended up needing a late Kelechi Iheanacho equaliser to evade a costly home defeat.
Aston Villa come into this game with the benefit of a weekend off, having exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle while Leicester were in action at Brentford. They can also look back at last week’s league action when they put a stop to Watford’s recent positive form with a 2-1 win having been a goal down. The visitors will be favourites for this match, and with good reason, but they shouldn’t expect to have it all their own way.
Aston Villa vs Leicester City Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Leicester City
Fresh from winning a narrow victory at Dean Smith’s former employer in one cup competition, Brendan Rodgers now must mastermind a win over Smith’s current employer in a different cup. There’s no disputing that the Foxes have the upper hand where quality is concerned – they sit snugly in third place while Villa are very much still under the threat of relegation. They also won by a thumping 4-1 margin on this very ground as recently as mid-December. Nonetheless, the draw which played out last time the sides met means that the Foxes have precious little margin for error..
Our recommended tip: Leicester and BTTS
There is little point to Villa sitting back and hoping to absorb pressure here – they’re not very good at that and it would probably go badly for them. Instead, they’ll have to take the game to their opponents where possible, with midfield talisman Jack Grealish and new striker Ally Samatta likely to play key roles. Leicester should still have the upper hand – more so if Jamie Vardy recovers in time from a glute injury – but this will be a competitive outing. William Hill’s 19/10 odds on an away win with both sides scoring sound like very good value.
You wait years for a Midlands derby in the Premier League, and then three come along in the space of a couple of months. After Leicester’s last trip to Villa Park, in which Vardy (2), Iheanacho and Jonny Evans secured a comfortable win, the sides met again in the first leg of this tie. At the King Power Stadium, wing-back Frederic Guilbert put the visitors ahead after 28 minutes, before resolute Villa defending kept the underdogs in the ascendancy until a quarter of an hour from the end. Vardy’s pass then released Iheanacho to fire home from 12 yards and level the scores.
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Players to watch: Ally Samatta & Wilfried Ndidi
Tanzanian international Samatta has arrived at Villa just in the nick of time, with Wesley out for the season. The striker’s goals for Genk in European competition attracted a great deal of attention, and his past record shows he has been prolific wherever he has played – something his current employers will hope to see continuing as they fight relegation and seek to progress in this tie. With 116 goals in 229 career games, he certainly knows how to hit the net.
A patch of dodgy recent form for City coincided almost directly with Ndidi’s spell out after a knee operation. The Nigerian midfielder was expected to be out for much longer, but two weeks was all it took to get him back on the pitch for a cameo in last week’s trouncing of West Ham. Arguably the most important player in the squad, Ndidi’s inexhaustible ball-winning and forward thinking elevate Leicester from a decent Premier League side to one that can compete regularly for honours.