Tottenham's Jermain Defoe scores past Aston Villa's Jed Steer
An injury-hit Aston Villa side were dumped out of the Capital One Cup in clinical fashion. Premier League rivals Tottenham were simply too hot to handle, putting Villa to the sword in a 4-0 rout. The win sees Spurs advance into the fourth round and Villa looking increasingly likely to extend their trophy-less run to 18 years. The cup exit isn't all bad news for Villa, however. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
The severely depleted Villa side, missing the likes of Christian Benteke, who has been ruled out for up to six weeks, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Antonio Luna, Jores Okore and Fabian Delph, were unable to cope with their high-flying North London opponents. But, with a long and arduous Premier League season ahead, and an injury list piling up before even the second month of the season is out, Villa can count themselves lucky that their cup run has come to an end.
Paul Lambert's men flirted dangerously close to relegation last season—a string of results in the final few fixtures saving them from the drop.
Villa's 2012/13 team is, for the most part, almost identical to that of this season's. Lambert strengthened his side with seven additions over the summer, but besides Antonio Luna and Jores Okore—who have both featured in this campaign and are subsequently suffering from injuries—his starting XI has remained virtually unchanged in comparison with the one that struggled last season.
Will Aston Villa avoid relegation this season?
Despite that, Premier League safety remains paramount, and Villa's current crop of players do not have the experience and longevity to spend the first six months of the season focused on a fairytale cup run whilst attempting to keep their top-flight status intact.
The claret and blue outfit reached the semi-finals of the League Cup just last year, but were eventually beaten—in somewhat embarrassing fashion—by League One side Bradford City.
And between those dates in the league, Villa amassed just 20 points from a possible 63—a factor that contributed heavily toward their near-relegation.
Of course, securing silverware would appease the majority of fans, but putting the club's status and progression at risk for the purpose of lifting a trophy is foolish. Wigan Athletic and Birmingham City put everything into winning a trophy during their latest spell in the Premier League, and whilst successful in their endeavours, were relegated to English football's second tier—not a fate that Lambert's men should suffer this season.