Villa’s inability to hold a lead almost costly again in Carling Cup

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In terms of club size and the consistency of their league results over previous seasons, Aston Villa are the worthy third favourites to lift the Carling Cup.

However, if they continue to have problems holding onto leads then this end result is unlikely to happen.

Villa have already lost five games in all competitions after scoring the first goal, while they led twice in the second leg of their Europa League qualifier with Rapid Vienna but still fell to defeat.

This inability to close out a game when having taken the lead is costing them numerous points in the Premier League, but also almost cost them their place in the quarter finals of the Carling Cup.

With Manchester United and Arsenal the only real big guns remaining in the competition, Gerard Houllier’s team will see the Carling Cup as a strong chance to claim some silverware.

Aston Villa are 6/1 to win the Carling Cup after scraping past Burnley in extra time, where they made it as hard for themselves as possible to qualify.

Having taken the lead with just four minutes remaining against Championship opposition, Villa should have had the ability to see out the game.

But instead they conceded a last-minute equaliser to force extra time and then after taking the lead again, found themselves reduced to ten men.

This time they held out, but they may not get away with such slackness in the last eight of the competition.

A chance to get revenge for last year’s Carling Cup final defeat against Manchester United is a possibility in the quarter finals, while they could also draw local rivals Birmingham or West Brom.

Last year’s final loss was another occasion where they failed to hold a lead, eventually going down 2-1.

Manchester United are the 15/8 favourites to win the Carling Cup with eight teams left in the tournament. See the full Carling Cup winners betting odds market.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.