Aston Villa v West Brom 2015 (Premier League + FA Cup)
This week Villa face the unusual task of playing the Baggies twice in five days. A quarter-final in the FA Cup is at least something for the long-suffering fans to look forward to, but the league encounter is equally as important. A poor result in both games will severely damage any remaining hope of avoiding relegation. As the old cliche goes though, form goes out of the window in derby games – and West Brom could be without several key players…
Villa have only won against the Baggies once in the last eight encounters
Sherwood on his squad
“Pressure should be on them already. If they’re not feeling pressure being second bottom in the league for a massive club like Aston Villa then something’s seriously wrong. They need to feel the pressure.”
Sherwood on West Brom
“I think we will have a lot of the football. We will need to be patient and try to open them up.
“If we score then they will need to change their plan. We need to break this West Brom team down.”
“Is there any extra needle in this match for me? Not at all. Good little club isn’t it?
“It just wasn’t right for me and wasn’t right for them. I am delighted to be at this massive club.”
Pulis on Villa
“It’s a massive game for the area, never mind the position that both clubs are in. It’s a massive game and we’re expecting a tough time.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Tim Sherwood. I think he’s a good coach and I think he’s a good manager and I’m sure he will be a success.
“He just needs the time there to turn it around. I think Villa have appointed a really top man.”
Craig Gardner on the possibility of Villa relegation
“I know what it is like myself going down with Birmingham City. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. If you say who would rather go down them or us, obviously I’m going to choose them.
“They are a good side with good players and Tim Sherwood is a good manager. Hopefully they will survive. Everyone is fighting for their lives.
“I wouldn’t say it is a decent time to play them because they are at home and fighting like we are. There are eight or nine teams in the relegation fight so everyone just needs to win their games.
“I think it will be a thriller for the neutrals. But we want to keep our run going.”
[quote_center]”Good little club isn’t it?” – Sherwood on WBA[/quote_center]
29th January 2014 Aston Villa 4 West Brom 3
Although it’s hard to imagine Villa scoring four goals these days that’s exactly what happened in last season’s crazy derby clash. It remains our only win against West Brom in the last eight meetings.
Villa – Last five league matches at home: D 2, L 3
West Brom – Last five matches away: D 3, L 2
Villa have won three of the last five league encounters against the baggies at Villa Park.
Villa have a good record against the Baggies in recent cup ties. We beat them 4-0 at home in the FA Cup in 1998 and 2-0 away in the same competition in 1990.
FA Cup – The Results So Far
Villa – Blackpool (H) 1-0, Bournemouth (H) 2-1, Leicester (H) 2-1
West Brom – Gateshead (H) 7-0, Birmingham City (A) 2-1, West Ham (H) 4-0
One to Watch
Saido Berahino – Although there’s the possibility he could miss Tuesday’s game it’s likely he’ll play a part in the cup, a competition he’s scored five goals in so far…
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Tim Sherwood or Tony Pulis? It’s now a question of who will prevail, but at one point it was a matter of who would follow Alan Irvine as West Brom manager.
Unlike Sherwood, Pulis has made an instant impact on the team. As you’d expect from a Tony Pulis side, they’re difficult to beat – but they’ve been picking up some excellent results as well.
Their win against Southampton on Saturday means they’ve only lost once in eight league games – keeping five clean sheets in Pulis’s seven league matches. More importantly from their perspective, it looks like they are more or less safe from the drop, sitting eight points away from the relegation zone.
When you match these impressive defensive stats with those of Villa, they point to a double bill of tight, cagey encounters.
Villa have the worst shots on target tally in the league this season at 72 and have only converted a measly 6% of these. While the cup has been welcome respite for the claret and blue faithful, it’s been three months since we won a league game at Villa Park.
A makeshift defence might feature again with both Cissokho and Richardson injured, while Ron Vlaar is apparently “touch and go”.
The Baggies haven’t scored many goals in the league but it’s a different story in the cup as the results above show. They’ve bagged 13 goals in 3 FA Cup matches and will be confident of knocking another local rival out of the competition after seeing off Birmingham City.
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
One of the strange quirks of Lambert’s Villa reign was that he usually did OK in games against West Brom, or at least he did until this season.
In recent clashes we showed admirable character, coming back from two goal deficits in both matches during the 13/14 campaign.
Recently it only seems to take a goal to shrug off Villa and we seem incapable of answering back after conceding. It’s important then that we open the scoring against West Brom. Five of their seven league wins have featured a 1-0 scoreline so they clearly know how to hold onto a lead.
Remarkably, every one of the 17 Premier League clashes between the two teams has been a draw or a victory decided by one goal. We put six goals past West Brom last season but conceded five in doing so. With goals at a premium for Villa of late, resolute defending could be key in grinding out a much needed league victory – and/or cup progression.
It’s been three months since Villa last won a home game in the league.
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Pulis has made WBA solid at the back, but. Albion are without a win in their last eight away games.
We mentioned above that Sherwood hasn’t had the impact of the Welshman on his team but even the most negative Villan would admit to some improvement.
It’s a different kind of test for Sherwood with big Derby atmospheres – 3,000 WBA fans are expected on Tuesday while 6,500 will be at Villa Park on Saturday. But on the basis that improvement is slowly happening and the general unpredictability of derby matches, anything could happen – just look at the corresponding fixture last season!
Benteke looked impressive for periods of the Newcastle match and Sinclair seems to have bought into Sherwood’s best attempts to change Villa’s fortunes. After a uneventful loan spell at the Baggies last season, he in particular could have a point to prove.
Sherwood has the support of the majority of the Villa faithful and both games provide opportunity for a massive lift. A win in even one of these fixtures would be massive in the context of this season. Let’s just hope we see a decent performance in both.
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