Championship giants come to Kenilworth Road in EFL Cup
The Hatters host Aston Villa tonight as two former winners meet in what is one of the most anticipated ties of the EFL Cup first round.
Villa have won the League Cup on five previous occasions in 1961, 1975, 1977, 1994 and 1996, but the Town – winners in 1988 of course – go into the game on the back of one of the performances of the week with the fine 3-0 win over Plymouth last Saturday.
This will be the first time Aston Villa have been in the first round of the league cup since 1972 when they beat Hereford 4-1, but are the only relegated Premier League side in the first round of this year’s competition as they finished bottom of the top flight last season.
Luton haven’t played the West Midlanders since October 2002 when Dion Dublin’s brace secured Villa a place in the third round of what was then the Worthington Cup with a 3-0 victory at Villa Park.
The last time the Hatters beat the Villans was in 1992 when Brian Stein and Mark Pembridge netted in a 2-0 home victory in the First Division – the Town’s last win in the top flight of English football.
Villa only managed just 27 goals in the league last season and most of the success they had came in this competition, where they made the fourth round after a nervy extra-time win over Notts County and a home victory over fierce rivals Birmingham, before losing to Southampton at St Mary’s in the fourth round.
The Hatters, on the other hand, were one of the stories of the competition last time around as Bristol City perished 3-1 at Kenilworth Road before the Town took Stoke to a penalty shootout live on Sky, but the Premier League side proved victorious from the spot.
Villa could name a strong starting eleven featuring the likes of Ross McCormack, Jordan Ayew and Adama Traore, but manager Nathan Jones is excited by the contest.
Jones said: “We’re looking forward to it. The Sky cameras are there which always adds a bit of an edge.
“They’ve got some real threats, they’re a Championship football club so they’re bound to have good players, you don’t play at that level if you haven’t.
“They’ll have threats all over the pitch but it’s just how we handle that and how we impose ourselves.
“It’s a great game for us, but we’re not just looking to make up the numbers and it’s an opportunity for people to see what we can do.
“Anyone in our squad could play. We’ve got 20 players now and I could rely on any one of them, it just depends how we decide to go, how we think they’re going to set up and what we feel will be best to implement our game plan on them.”
If you can’t be at Kenilworth Road, you can watch the game live on Sky Sports with coverage starting at 7.30pm.
There will also be live updates on Twitter and Facebook, with live commentary on Hatters PlayerHD, BBC Three Counties and talkSPORT radio.
The Round Two draw will take place on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports News HQ immediately after the conclusion of the game at Kenilworth Road.
*Tickets are still available for Hatters supporters but please remember that due to the away allocation having sold out for tonight’s game, cash turnstiles will not be available. Unfortunately, tickets are also not available on line.
Tickets can still be purchased from 10am until kick off, however, these will only be available in person from the Ticket Office or via phone on 01582 416976.
All supporters are advised to arrive early for the game, especially if purchasing or collecting tickets on the night.
To help with access to tonight’s game, supporters intending to collect their Season Tickets from the Ticket Office are requested to do so before 7.15 pm or after the game.
TEAM PROFILE – ASTON VILLA
Nicknames: The Villa, Villans
Ground: Villa Park
Last season: 20th Premier League
Manager: Roberto Di Matteo
Last league match: Sheffield Wednesday (a) L 0-1
HATTERS v VILLA
Luton wins: 18
Villa wins: 15
Aston Villa 3 v 0 Luton – 02/10/02