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Capitulation in the Cup

Stoke City visited Villa Park on Thursday evening, with a place in the Carabao Cup Quarter Final up for grabs. Dean Smith named 11 ahead of the game against Liverpool on the weekend. Elmo continued at centre half alongside Hause in an unchanged side from the team that demolished Bristol City with ease last week.

We started sloppy misplacing passes, with Lansbury being one of the biggest culprits and never really got into the game. We never seemed to get going and click into gear. Sam Vokes gave the opener to Stoke City and it was always going to be a long way back due to the way we were playing. The slick passing from the first four games of the season seemed to disappear during the game. The slow square passes, extra touches, lack of urgency became more obvious and the frustration was beginning to build.

It seemed as though the players were saying to one another "Go on, you do something with it" and hiding from taking responsibility. Young midfielder, Ramsey was a shining light in an otherwise appalling first half from the Villans.

I was optimistic at half time that Dean Smith, JT and co would have gotten stuck into the lads and forced a change in tempo - that change, never came. We came out exactly as we had the first, misplacing passes and taking little or no care in our attacking work. Their inexperienced defender Collins was made to look class as we failed to properly threaten him for the entire 90 minutes.

It was a disappointing result after a fantasic string of performances to start the season and although it is incredibly frustrating, we must take this in context.

Dean Smith made eleven changes for the game tonight, leaving numerous key men out. You can forgive him for thinking we would have had enough to get past Stoke but the lack of players on the bench able to change the game was clear to see as we waited until a Hause injury before changing things.

Dean was never going to take this competition as serious as he does with Premier League football and I think perhaps last seasons cup run which contrasted with the Premier League survival campaign could have played a factor in his thinking. Eager not to have anyone injured or tired for the game against Liverpool, he made the neccessary changes to protect his key men.

Whether that'll be the correct decision, is yet to be seen. But overall, a VERY disappointing night for the Villans and their fans. No cup run in the Carabao Cup, we'll have to win the FA Cup instead then!

Article by: Dan Craythorne

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