Wednesday 09 January 2013

Capital One Cup: We can still reach final, says Lambert

Aston Villa manager upbeat despite 3-1 defeat by Bradford while Swansea take on Chelsea

  • Paul Lambert is confident Aston Villa can overturn the two-goal deficit at Villa Park

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes his side have a good chance of overcoming a two-goal deficit when they take on Bradford City in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final in two weeks.

After dominating the start of the first leg at the Coral Windows Stadium, Villa went two goals behind to strikes from Nahki Wells and Rory McArdle. Villa’s situation improved when Andreas Weimann pulled a goal back with seven minutes remaining but, five minutes later, Carl McHugh restored the two-goal lead that Bradford will take to Villa Park on January 22.

"It will be a different tie. We'll be at home, with the crowd behind us"
Paul Lambert

Lambert reckons his side can emulate the Villa team who recovered a two-goal deficit against Tranmere Rovers at the same stage of the competition in 1994.

"It is half-time, we have another chance to retrieve this and we will see what happens in a fortnight's time," Lambert said. "It will be a different tie. We will be at home, with the crowd behind us, and we will have to do better than we did tonight, that is for sure. If chances come our way, we’ll have to be clinical and take them."

"I'm pretty sure we will be [favourites], being at home with the crowd behind us, but it is a big game for us now."

In the other semi-final, Swansea City travel to Chelsea for the first leg tonight and that is how Michael Laudrup, the Welsh side’s manager, wants it.

"I always preferred being away first in these games,” he said. “I have done both as a manager and a player and if I had to choose, I would prefer to play away first.

"The different thing is it is not a complete game, it is only the first half and we play the second half here in two weeks' time. It is difficult to play a game when you know you have another one to come, but we know it is important to get a result so we can play the second leg here in front of our fans with the possibility to go through.

"It will be difficult, we know that. To beat Chelsea in one game is difficult, over two games it is even more difficult. But we have to give it a try, and we will give it a try and I hope the confidence we have built up in recent weeks can help us."

"To beat Chelsea in one game is difficult, over two games it is even more difficult"
Michael Laudrup

The last time Swansea went to Stamford Bridge they lost 4-1 in the Barclays Premier League last season and Laudrup will be looking to avoid a repeat scoreline as they aim for their first semi-final of a leading competition since reaching the last four of the FA Cup in 1964.

"It is the first time for us to be in a semi-final for some time,” he said. "It is the first time since 1964, that was a good year as I was born then so it is 48 years ago and it shows what an achievement this is. The chance to go and play in a final is very big for us."

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez is expected to continue his policy of fielding a strong starting XI for the tie, even if it comes too early for the recovering John Terry, who could play in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League match on Thursday against Fulham. Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel are also absent, having been selected for the Nigeria squad for the African Cup of Nations.

"We want to win all the games," said Benitez, who lost in the 2005 final when in charge of Liverpool. "In any club it is important but especially when you are challenging and fighting for trophies. We know it is the semi-final and we will try to be in the final.

“We have a lot of respect for Swansea because it is a good team and they are doing well, but this will be an interesting game for the fans. The mentality of these players is to win every competition and every game, we will talk about it and make sure everybody is focused. The team has been doing well in terms of motivation, we are scoring goals and not conceding too many.”

Demba Ba’s brace for Chelsea on his debut against Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday has given Benitez a dilemma over whether to select the Senegalese or Fernando Torres.

“It's good for me because before I didn't have to think about that,” Benitez said. “It will be difficult, but I'm pleased to be in this position. As a manager, you have to take responsibility and choose a player.”

Capital One Cup semi-finals

First legs
Tuesday 8 January
Bradford City 3-1 Aston Villa

Wednesday 9 January
Chelsea v Swansea City, 7.45pm

Second legs
Tuesday 22 January

Aston Villa v Bradford City, 7.45pm

Wednesday 23 January
Swansea City v Chelsea, 7.45pm

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Key Points

  • Aston Villa must overcome two-goal deficit to Bradford City after losing the semi-final, first leg of the Capital One Cup 3-1
  • Manager Paul Lambert confident side can recover at Villa Park in two weeks
  • Chelsea and Swansea play first leg of their semi-final at Stamford Bridge tonight