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Pompey v Villa – Preview

Portsmouth could make club history tonight by reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup, when they take on league rivals Aston Villa live at Fratton Park.

Villa and Pompey have only met in one former League Cup tie, a second-round encounter played over two legs, with Villa winning 5-4 on aggregate.

Pompey have suffered four defeats at this stage previously, including a 3-0 loss to Watford in 2004. Aston Villa on the other hand have won the League Cup five times, with only Liverpool winning the competition more.

Pompey embarrassed by Watford in 2004

Pompey embarrassed by Watford in 2004

Incredibly, Martin O’Neil’s side have only scored once on their journey to this tie. Meanwhile, Pompey have scored eleven goals.

However, Jamie O’Hara, Kevin Prince Boateng, Mike Williamson and Tommy Smith all miss out for the Blues due to being cup-tied.

Bosnia & Herzegovina international Asmir Begovic will remain in goal, while Steve Finnan is still yet to recover from a groin injury. Midfielder Papa Bouba Diop also remains sidelined.

Begovic - another chance to impress in James' absense
Begovic – another chance to impress in James’ absense

For Villa, Nigel Reo-Coker and Stephen Warnock are both hoping to recover in time, while Brad Guzan could start in place of the daunting Brad Friedel. Defender James Collins remains sidelined with a calf problem.

Being on a bad run of form, Portsmouth have lost their last three matches in the Premier League, conceding eight times and only scoring twice. In comparison, Villa have only lost one of their last nine games in all competitions.

Pompey have lost in their last two meetings with the Midlands side, with Villa already beating the Blues 2-0 in the league earlier on this season.

All in all, it looks set to be a difficult encounter for Pompey, yet the players will be buoyed by the news that at least 18,000 fans are set to turnout and support.

More importantly, Avram Grant will be looking for his first win as Portsmouth manager, while many of Pompey’s fringe players will be keen to make an impression.

While their league form may be less than desirable, Pompey have played attractive, free-flowing football in the Carling Cup and fans will be hoping for more of the same this evening.

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