The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Birmingham City 2018
It’s that time again.
The Second City derby is upon us.
Both teams have improved since the last time they met, and the recent form of each side suggests this might be a departure from the usual cagey encounters.
Villa are practically injury-free with fixture favourite Agbonlahor also ready for selection.
Thanks to Saturday’s results, if Villa win, they’ll now end the day second in the league and primed for automatic promotion. The stakes just rose even more.
How will it all unfold?
3rd in the league table with the 2nd best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 3, D 2
18th in league table with 22nd best away record.
Last five matches away: W 2, D 2, L 1
Calderwood on Grealish
“He’s in fine form and it’s a good storyline.
“All his talent is coming to the fore and he’s making big impacts in games.
“As much as he’s capturing headlines for his attacking play, his effort for the team is really high at the minute.”
and on Blues form
“We’ve got to be wary of it, of course.
“But this is the kind of game that really focuses everyone. We become desperate to win the next game.
“We’ll be ready.”
and on Grabban and Gabby
“We’ve been monitoring him this week and got him through some physical work.
“Then he was in with the players properly this week.
“He’ll be there or thereabouts with regard to selection I imagine.
“He’s slotted in well. He’s an experienced player who’s been at lots of different clubs.
“He’s well-versed with adapting to a new dressing room.
“I think he’ll be a good addition for us.
“Everyone is fit and available. [Gabby is] in the manager’s thoughts.
“He’s got a terrific record and Gabby, along with Jack, are the ones who really bring home what it means to the rest of the dressing room.”
Cotterill on Villa
“Steve Bruce has done a good job there and bringing John Terry into the dressing room, I think has been vital for him.
“Obviously him coming back into the team has coincided with their good form again.
“We were mooted to be looking for John’s services and obviously he decided to go to Aston Villa at the time.
“He’s been a good signing for them.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the good run of form that Villa have been on has coincided with him coming back into the fold.
“We show everybody great respect for anyone for any game.
“I’ve no doubt that when Aston Villa went on a bit of a losing run, when you’re at a bigger club the confidence can take a hit.
“Those passes out there on the pitch are a lot different on training ground when there’s no one watching you or scrutinising you than the real event in the real arena.
“Confidence plays a big part in this game, how players are and how teams feel.
“They’re in a good run of form and confident probably just like ourselves.”
12th December 2004 – Aston Villa 1 Birmingham City 2
Despite a late strike from Gareth Barry, Villa were defeated in the Second City derby thanks to goals from Clinton Morrison and David Dunn. The significance of this game is explained below…
One to Watch
Sam Gallagher – the on-loan striker is in good form and has scored in four of the last six games.
villa haven’t won seven consecutive league matches since February 1990
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
The last time we faced Blues there was reason for optimism given their poor form, but the game ended as a dull 0-0.
It’s not quite the case now, and while Birmingham City are still towards the bottom of the table, their form has vastly improved.
Cotterill has found a formation and a team that has been reaping the rewards for Blues, and they’ve recorded 13 points from their last six games, including a 3-1 win away at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.
Villa’s form has been excellent and Bruce, manager of the month (will the curse strike?), deserves a lot of credit for our excellent run.
But you do have to wonder when our good run will come to an end.
We haven’t won seven consecutive league matches since February 1990, and a derby clash is no ordinary game…
“They’re in a good run of form and confident probably just like ourselves” – Cotterill ON VILLA
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
It isn’t much use looking at recent form when it comes to Second City derbies. Anything can happen…well, in the spectrum of a boring 1-0 win and a 0-0 draw, if recent games are an indication!
A look at the history books can offer some promising records, however.
It’s been a long time since Blues have won at Villa Park. That last loss came in 2004 and is mentioned in the memory match above.
We’re unbeaten in 11 league matches against Birmingham (W7 D4) since a 2-0 away loss in March 2005 in the Premier League.
As well as that, Blues haven’t scored during any of their last visits to Villa Park in all competitions since the goal from Mikael Forssell in the 5-1 game in 2008.
Bruce has a decent record against Blues since leaving the club. He hasn’t lost any of his seven home matches (in all competitions) against them since he departed the club in 2007 – winning six, and drawing once.
It will be Steve Cotterill’s first visit to Villa Park (as a manager) since 2005. On that occasion he was managing Burnley in a League Cup tie, which Villa won 1-0.
This time around, he’ll be visiting a ground where we’re seven games unbeaten, and looking like automatic promotion contenders.
It won’t be easy, and you can bet the game will throw up some surprises, but if our key players deliver, we’ll have a decent chance of the bragging rights.
The form of Snodgrass, who is having his most productive season since the 2011/12 campaign (with six goals and nine assists) will be vital.
Grealish missed the October reverse fixture but will now be expected to play a big part in the derby – as well as realising the 2011 tweet that has recently re-surfaced!
Hopefully we can carry on our excellent run in a fiery derby clash – there’s no better match for us to carry on the winning streak and propel us into second place.
As a final note, the sad news about Steve Bruce’s father puts everything into perspective.
We send our thoughts out to Bruce and his family at this difficult time.
For the best derby preview check out the podcast preview episode:
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