Aston Villa vs. West Brom
Venue: Villa Park
Kick off: 7PM
Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion will be equally desperate to return to winning ways in the Premier League during today’s West Midlands derby at Villa Park.
Dean Smith’s side succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in midweek, whereas West Brom’s survival hopes were dealt another damaging blow in a 3-0 loss to Leicester City.
Aston Villa were in dreamland after just 20 seconds against Man City as John McGinn finished off a sweeping attacking move with the game’s opening goal, but the joy was to be short-lived for Smith’s men as Phil Foden and Rodri put the champions-elect in control before the half-time whistle.
There were no more goals to be had on the day, but red cards were brandished to both sides as John Stones and Matty Cash were sent for early baths, and any fleeting hopes of Villa pursuing a place in Europe will be dashed if performances continue in the same vein.
The West Midlands outfit are currently languishing in 11th spot after losing three of their last four in the top flight, with the absence of talisman Jack Grealish continuing to affect Smith’s side in the final third, and the Villans’ defence are now without a clean sheet in five top-flight games.
With only two wins to boast from their last 10 Premier League fixtures – and one from their last five at home – Villa would surely accept a top-half finish at this stage, but at least they will not become embroiled in a second successive scrap for survival.
The joy of crushing victories over Chelsea and Southampton quickly died down for Sam Allardyce’s West Brom at the King Power Stadium, as the Baggies fell victim to a masterclass from the reinvigorated Jamie Vardy during a 3-0 loss on Thursday night.
The 34-year-old ended his goal drought before assisting Kelechi Iheanacho for Leicester’s third – by which point Jonny Evans had already headed in his side’s second on the night – and survival specialist Allardyce now finds his side’s chances of a miraculous escape slimming further and further.
The Baggies remain nine points adrift of safety with six games left to play, and with Sheffield United already down and out after a miserable campaign, West Brom are sure to follow in their footsteps unless Allardyce can start to work his magic again in the next few weeks.
In fact, only the Blades have endured a worse time on the road than West Brom this season, although the two away victories for Allardyce’s side this season have both come since the turn of the year as they eye what could still prove to be a crucial derby win at Villa Park.
A double from Anwar El Ghazi helped Villa on their way to a 3-0 success over West Brom earlier in the season, and the Baggies travel to Villa Park yet to win a Premier League game, drawing three and losing six of their games on such occasions.
Aston Villa possible XI: Martinez, Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Luiz, Traore, Barkley, El Ghazi, Watkins.
West Brom possible XI: Johnstone, Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend, Pereira, Yokuslu, Gallagher, Maitland-Niles, Phillips, Diagne.