By Richard Wakefield
More Than a Match
The Second City derby will arrive at St. Andrews for the first time in six years, which was also the last time Villa and the Blues squared off in a league fixture. Time hasn’t been kind to either team since the 1-1 draw, with both teams being relegated to the Championship.
Last year’s League Cup clash left with Villa picking up the victory courtesy of a Rudy Gestede header, but significant changes to both teams squads and Villa’s management team (several times), mean that game will have little bearing on what happens at St Andrews.
Putting the heated rivalry aside, Steve Bruce returns to his former club who have only lost once at home all season and are sitting level on points with the last play-off spot. Villa and Birmingham’s squads haven’t been as evenly matched for a long time, which makes picking up three points at St. Andrews Steve Bruce’s toughest task yet.
Here’s three ways of making sure it happens…
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2. Running For Goals
As previously mentioned, Birmingham aren’t a team known for keeping the ball away from their opponents. With players such as Che Adams and Jacques Maghoma, Villa could be at real danger if a ball is knocked into space for them to run onto.
Adams and Maghoma are blessed with real pace whilst team mates such as Jutkiewicz, Donaldson and Cotterill aren’t a bunch of slouches either.
The most likely Villa back four of Hutton, Chester, Baker and Amavi/Cissokho lacks real pace, which is a concern, if they’re not disciplined.
Steve Bruce needs to tell his back four to not get drawn out of their half and leave themselves chasing the ball over the top. The more the Villa defence have their backs to goal the better as a deeper defensive line would force Birmingham to step out of their comfort zone and make them play face-to-face with Villa’s defenders.