The Villa Appetiser: Birmingham City v Aston Villa 2017
A win against an in-form Fulham side was the perfect way to respond to our disappointing defeat at Wolves, and a good way to prepare for the proper derby of the season.
Last season’s encounter at St. Andrews was one of the first few games under Steve Bruce, against a well-organised Gary Rowett side. This time around it’s reversed with Bruce a year into the job, while new Blues man Cotterill will take charge of Birmingham for just the third time.
With the Blues boss still getting to know his players and with Villa top of the form table with a now settled team, it might be worth checking the betting sites to potentially double your money with a Villa away win.
With automatic promotion the aim, local derby or not, this is the kind of game Villa need three points from.
Cotterill on Villa clash
“[Villa] have been in good form, the league table tells you that. Feed off atmosphere. A few of them will know more about it that I know. We haven’t discussed that yet.
“I wouldn’t say [Bruce has] been on the phone every five minutes but he has been a good guy when there has been contact. I would wish him good luck apart from this Sunday.
“This one might just be the biggest. Experiencing it last year it just might be the biggest. I want to experience it now with our supporters right behind us.”
Bruce on derby atmosphere
“You’ve got to rev yourself up of course, but you’ve got to remember to play.
“Let’s hope we can go and win the game with a flash of individual brilliance.
“On the other hand, mistakes can cost you these games, too.
“The big ingredient for the derby is to play well on the day if you can and, with all the madness around you, to keep focussed on the game and play it the right way.”
and on Blues
“I saw them against Cardiff and they thoroughly deserved to win.
“The challenge in the Championship is the different styles – what Birmingham will throw at us compared to Fulham last week.
“They’re different ends of the scale.
“Steve Cotterill will have his team organised – they’ll be well drilled, well marshalled.
“We know what to expect.”
30th October 2016 Birmingham City 1 Aston Villa 1
A goal from David Davis cancelled out Gary Gardner’s opener in Bruce’s fourth game in charge.
Birmingham City – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 1, L 2
Villa – Last five matches away: W 2, D 1, L 2
One to Watch
Jota – Blues’ record signing has returned from injury and after a couple of games on the bench could feature in Sunday’s derby clash.
the three victories Blues have recorded this season all happened under different managers
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
The usual clichés always arise ahead of a derby game. The prospect of a scrappy game. The notion of a fiery atmosphere. You can see most of them trotted out in the press conferences.
What is true, however, is that form goes out of the window, and some of the statistics that we’ll look at don’t make for great reading on the eve of a derby game.
Certainly you do get trends developing when it comes to matches between opponents, and the last two visits to St Andrews for Villa have ended as draws.
Similarly, despite the difference in league position, the respective home v away records (as seen above) are exactly the same, so it could be another stalemate!
While Villa have scored plenty of goals in the opening months of the season, we’ve also conceded the highest proportion of our league goals (11 out of 13) in the second half of games.
In terms of managerial personnel, Bruce has lost five of his seven managerial visits to St Andrew’s as an opposing manager.
Despite losing last weekend, Blues manager Cotterill did oversee a 1-0 win over table-toppers Cardiff in his first game at St. Andrew, in which he opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Those two deep midfielders could be there again, as the Blues go for three St Andrews clean sheets on the bounce.
“Steve Cotterill will have his team organised – they’ll be well drilled, well marshalled” – bruce on blues
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Despite our recent struggles at St Andrews the history books can also reveal some promising statistics.
Blues have not won in 10 league derby meetings with Villa, which is their joint-longest winless run since the first ten meetings between the clubs between 1894 and 1905!
We mentioned Bruce’s poor record as opposition manager at St Andrews, but he has won five Second City derby games, with the 1-0 win last April his first as Villa manager.
Terry’s goal against Fulham last week was a great way to mark his good performances over the last few games, and as a Chelsea player, he was never on the losing side in 10 meetings with Blues…
Meanwhile Albert Adomah has continued to impress following his return to the side. He’s scored five goals in his past six games, and generally our goalscoring rates are improving – compared to Sunday’s opponents, we’ve scored three more league goals in the first half of matches this season (11) than Blues have managed in total (8).
While Birmingham’s summer signings are still trying to gel with Jota and Sam Gallagher on the bench in recent games, the Villa ranks are finally showing some stability.
In stark contrast, the three victories Blues have recorded this season all happened under different managers.
With five wins in our last six league games, Villa are finally in the play-off places. A place in the top two would be even closer with three points on Sunday, providing results went our way.
We’re in a much better state than we were when we last met Blues at St Andrews, just under a year ago.
The defeat at Wolves was a disappointing loss amidst improving away form, but it’s unlikely Villa will meet many teams playing that well during the rest of the season.
An early goal for Villa and then a thirst for more, could lead to a very good Sunday afternoon, but the more realistic outcome is it’s not going to be pretty and Villa may have to grind out the win.
They’ll certainly be three of the harder points Villa can earn, but a win would certainly legitimise our promotion credentials.
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