FA Cup 3rd Round: Aston Villa v Ipswich Town
Saturday January 5
Villa Park, 3pm
Paul Lambert did not have a good Christmas. Fifteen goals conceded in just three games meant any seasonal cheer evaporated as quickly as Villa's defensive stability.
A fortunate point against Swansea on New Years Day may have stopped the rot, and Lambert will be hoping that a confidence-boosting win against Championship opposition in the cup will take the focus off Villa's league position.
Ipswich, currently managed by Mick McCarthy, are no strangers to heavy defeats this season either. Only two Championship clubs have let in more than the 48 the Tractor Boys have shipped this season, although McCarthy's appointment at the start of November has brought with it a little more solidarity.
Former Ipswich striker and back-up bench-warmer Darren Bent could get a run out against his former club in an attempt to tempt buyers in the January transfer window, although the way things are going at the moment, it's probably worth Lambert trying him out in central defence.