Jack Grealish

In Profile: City's Carabao Cup Semi-Final Opponents, Aston Villa

Aston Villa visit King Power Stadium on Wednesday for a Carabao Cup Semi-Final first leg tie against Leicester City (8pm GMT kick-off).
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The Foxes have already defeated the Midlands outfit 4-1 at Villa Park in the Premier League this season, but Dean Smith's men approach the fixture on the back of a win at Burnley.

Ahead of City's first semi-final in the competition since overcoming Villa in the last-four and eventually lifting the trophy for a third time in 2000, LCFC.com takes a closer look at our opponents...

The manager

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Dean Smith
Dean Smith

After winning promotion last season, Dean Smith is hoping to secure safety in the Premier League this term.

During a career that spanned across three decades, Dean Smith made over 500 appearances as a centre-back, representing five clubs in the process.

Smith made his debut for Walsall in 1989, before going on to play for Hereford United, Leyton Orient, Sheffield Wednesday and Port Vale, where he retired in 2005.

He then returned to Walsall in 2011 to take charge of the Saddlers, who he managed for four years and won two League 1 Manager of the Month accolades.

In November, 2015, he was appointed manager of Championship outfit Brentford, who he guided to two ninth and one 10th-placed finish before moving to Aston Villa.

Smith took over at Villa Park in October 2018, and in the same season gained promotion after winning the Championship Play-Offs thanks to a 2-1 victory over Derby County in the final.

This season, Smith has masterminded memorable successes over Norwich City, in the Premier League (5-1) and a youthful Liverpool side in the Carabao Cup (5-0) and his side sit 17th in the table.

The squad

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Tyrone Mings
Tyrone Mings

The centre-back joined Aston Villa from Bournemouth after an impressive loan spell last term.

Villa’s squad includes England seniors Tom Heaton and Tyrone Mings, and Three Lions youth international Jack Grealish, who captains the West Midlands side.

Doulas Luiz and Wesley, meanwhile, are both capped for Brazil, while Marvelous Nakamba is a Zimbabwean international team-mate of City Development Squad striker Admiral Muskwe.

The Brazilian duo were two of a number of signings made by Villa, who also signed centre-back Mings on a permanent deal, left-back Matt Targett from Southampton and Anwar El Ghazi from French outfit Lille.

Grealish is Villa's top scorer with eight strikes in all competitions this season, closely followed by Conor Hourihane (seven) and Wesley (six).

However, Wesley, alongside goalkeeper Heaton, was ruled out for the rest of the season after both suffered serious knee injuries during the New Year's Day win at Burnley.

The trophy cabinet

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Peter Withe
Peter Withe

Peter Withe scored the only goal of the game to help Aston Villa beat Bayern Munich in 1982.

Aston Villa have enjoyed a successful history in the game, having won seven top-flight titles and as many FA Cups.

They have also won five League Cups, two more than Leicester, with their 1996 title proving to be their most recent major honour.

Away from domestic achievements, they lifted the European Cup in 1981 after a famous 1-0 win over Bayern Munich thanks to Peter Withe's solitary effort in Rotterdam, before going on to beat Barcelona to claim the European Super Cup.

The stadium

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Villa Park
Villa Park

Villa Park has hosted a record 55 FA Cup Semi-Finals.

With a capacity of just over 42,000, Villa Park is the 11th-largest stadium in England and has been the home of Aston Villa since 1897.

Villa Park has hosted an incredible 55 FA Cup Semi-Finals, the most of any stadium, and has also seen England play there on 16 occasions.

In addition, the last ever UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final was played out there in 1999, when Lazio beat Mallorca 2-1 after goals from Christian Vieri and Pavel Nedvěd.

The fixtures

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Anwar El Ghazi
Anwar El Ghazi

Anwar El Ghazi struck for Aston Villa at Fulham on Saturday.

On Saturday, Dean Smith's side suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat by Sky Bet Championship side Fulham in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup at Craven Cottage.

Following Wednesday's first leg tie at King Power Stadium, Villa welcome Premier League champions Manchester City to Villa Park on Sunday before contesting two more top-flight fixtures.

Firstly, they travel to AMEX Stadium to tackle Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday 18 January before a home clash with Nigel Pearson's Watford on Tuesday 21 January.

Then, on Tuesday 28 January, it's time for the second leg against Leicester at Villa Park, with the victors set for a final appearance at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 1 March.

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