- The 14 Premier League fixtures between the sides have ended either as draws or 2-1 victories
- West Brom have lost just one of their last 8 PL games (W3, D4, L1)
- Villa has the best defense away from home in the PL, conceding just 3 times
Separated by just four miles, this two Black Country rivals are both in good form as a Midlands derby will heat up the chilly confides on the Hawthorns on Monday.
In fact, this battle couldn’t be closer as only one goal separates the two sides after an almost identical start to the season.
The Baggies come off the back of that controversial point at Chelsea after they thought a famous win was secured, only for the Blues to be handed a last-gasp penalty that referees chief Mike Riley has since apologized for. WBA are in good form after their early struggles and have not lost to Villa in their last five meetings. Steve Clarke’s side can move into the top half with a win.
But the same can be said for Villa, as their young side sit just one place below West Brom and level on points with the Baggies.
Last time out the Villans beat Cardiff City 2-0 at home and have found a way to grind out results with some solid defensive displays marshaled by USMNT ‘keeper Brad Guzan. Villa have recorded four shutouts in their last seven games… before that they hadn’t managed to keep a clean sheet in 26 PL matches.
In terms of injury news, West Brom welcome back Nicolas Anelka after he missed their draw with Chelsea, while Scott Sinclair could return from a hamstring strain but a similar problem keeps Billy Jones out.
Aston Villa are facing late fitness concerns over strikers Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann, while Ciaran Clark, Fabian Delph and Antonio Luna are fully fit.
What they’re saying
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert on the derby rivalry: “I think a derby game can throw up anything. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. Everyone knows a derby is important for supporters, first and foremost. For the team and the football club it’s vital to try to win a derby game. I have been involved in two West Brom v Villa derbies now too. I know the atmosphere will be there. You can see it’s a great game to play in.”
WBA boss Steve Clarke on what to expect: “It’s a West Midlands derby – the only West Midlands derby in the Premier League this season because, unfortunately, some of the other teams have dropped out. It’s a big game. We understand what it means to our supporters. I’m sure the Villa people know what it means to their supporters. We’ve got the Monday night all to ourselves, the whole country can watch if they want, and hopefully we put on a good spectacle.”
I think this will follow last years lead and be an enthralling encounter. It may not have all the goals and drama of the Merseyside derby on Saturday but these two teams are fierce rivals and both sets fans will make the Hawthorns a cacophony of noise on Monday. If Villa score early, they will invited West Brom to attack and that should make the game a terrific spectacle. Who am I going for? Well, both teams are so even and separated by just one goal in the standings… I’m going for a home win to the Baggies.