The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Birmingham City 2017

The first league encounter at Villa Park since 2010 between these teams certainly seems to have a variety of talking points.

Redknapp returns as new manager of Birmingham City in a bid to keep them up, while Villa have lost two of our last three games and will be without our main man Kodjia.

Football has been put into perspective by the tragic, untimely passing of Ugo Ehiogu this week. Both teams will pay tribute to the former Villa defender with a minute’s applause before the game, and black armbands on both sets of players.

Bruce on Ehiogu

“I think Big Ron brought him here for a very small amount of money and he ended up playing over 300 times in nearly 10 years.

“I’m as shocked as everybody else. And of course, your thoughts go immediately to his family because 44 years old is no age, we’re all devastated by the news.

“Certainly it’s rocked everybody here at the training ground because it’s so unexpected.

“I played against him many times. He was a big, huge, colossus of a man – a typical centre-back who took no nonsense.

“He was a very, very good player and from what I can gather, despite never having had the privilege of meeting him, I’m told he was a really decent human being.

“We’re all saddened and shocked by it.

“It’s dreadful news and it puts a game of football into perspective.”

and on Redknapp

“He’s a wonderfully experienced man.

“He’ll try and breed a bit of confidence into them.

“I’ve known him for a long, long time – he’s highly respected and a very, very good manager.

“Even at 70 he’s still got that enthusiasm which never leaves you.

“It’s good to see him back and it certainly adds a bit of spice to it.”

Redknapp on the derby

“You have got to have people that can handle it (a derby fixture), you have got to go out and play with cool heads.

“What you don’t want is people going out, going crazy, steaming into mad, crazy tackles, picking up a yellow or red card early in the game and suddenly you are out of the game.

“The first 20 minutes, I have watched lots of Villa on the videos and they are very quick out of the blocks.

“We have got to make sure we are ready for that and we keep ourselves in the game.”

“They (Villa) have done okay, but were done by Reading, then they went to Fulham and got beat.

“So, we are not going to Tottenham or somewhere (like that), at the moment.

“It’s a game we have got to go and try and cause them problems and be a threat.

“We don’t want to sit back for 90 minutes and just kick the ball anywhere. I wouldn’t know what that was, that sort of game.“

Memory Match

22nd Sep 2015 Aston Villa 1 Birmingham City 0

Despite league struggle’s a goal from Rudy Gestede saw Villa progress in this League Cup clash.

Villa – Last five matches at home: W 3, L 2

Birmingham City – Last five matches away: W 1, D 3, L 1

One to Watch

Lukas Jutkiewicz – Blues’ top scorer is back from injury and should feature on Sunday.

Bruce has not lost in seven home games against Blues in all competitions since a 2-0 defeat as manager of Sheffield United

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

There’s one main fact to sweep under the carpet this Sunday, and that’s the Kodjia situation.

In a feat of misfortune that only Villa could manage, Kodjia will miss the game thanks to a red card, despite the reduced ban.

It’s one of the most important games of the season, but our last few matches, however, have been dotted with defensive errors. Sunday will have to see a much better showing than our mistake-laden performance against Reading last time out.

A cagey draw against Birmingham City was one of the first games as Villa boss for Bruce, and another stalemate could be on the cards given the unimpressive recent form for both clubs.

The appointment of Harry Redknapp looks like a decent move given his football experience and he should be able to boost Blues for the remaining three games.

As well as this, the last time this game was played in the second division (back in 1987), Blues won 2-0, and have lost just once in four visits at this level…

“He was a big, huge, colossus of a man – a typical centre-back who took no nonsense” – BRUCE ON ugo ehiogu

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Despite Villa’s struggles over the last few seasons, our record against our rivals is pretty good.

After a promotion campaign led by Steve Bruce in 2002, Blues actually won four of their first six Premier League derbies against Villa, although they have not beaten us in league encounters in the last nine encounters.

Bruce has not lost in seven home games against his previous employers, Birmingham, in all competitions since a 2-0 defeat as manager of Sheffield United in 1998, and this was only his third league game in management!

Opposite Bruce in the dugout, Redknapp has only won his first league match for a team once. This was a 2-0 win over Bolton as Spurs manager in 2008 – a game in which Hutton was among the starting lineups.

On Sundays specifically, Villa and Blues have met 13 times, with Blues winning just twice as opposed to Villa’s six.

More generally, Villa have kept a clean sheet in our last three home matches against Blues (in all competitions), while we’re undefeated in 10 of our last 11 matches against Blues – again in all competitions.

The last few games have shown a Villa side playing like there is no longer much at stake this season, but while our unlikely play-off charge has long since failed, the bragging rights of Brum are at stake.

Hopefully Scott Hogan can step up in Kodjia’s absence.

Let’s end the season on a high!

RIP Ugo Ehiogu.

UTV.

Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid

For the ultimate preview going into the Blues game and plenty of laughs, check out the all new episode of the podcast…