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Villa Preview vs WBA: All Indications Point to Narrow Home Win

Villa host West Brom this Sunday in their second Midlands derby of the season and will be hoping for a significantly better performance and result than in the last one with Wolves. West Brom are playing their own second derby of the season, also having faced Wolves but with a much improved display earning them a 2-0 win last week.
The visitors are likely to have a full compliment of players to choose from, with Mulumbu and Steven Reid set to recover from slight problems having missed training on Wednesday.

Jermaine Jenas joins Lichaj and Delfouneso as the only certain absentees for Villa, with James Collins looking likely to recover from a groin injury to replace Ciaran Clark at the back. That is not likely to be the only change after the defeat at Man City, with McLeish set to revert to a 4-4-2 formation at home, with Agbonlahor set to push on in support of Bent. Therefore Emile Heskey, who was brought into the side to add muscle against Man City to little effect, is in line to be dropped.

After an impressive start to the campaign, Fabian Delph has faded somewhat and may also be due a rest, with Stephen Ireland hoping to keep his place in a 4-man midfield and Bannan, N’Zogbia and Albrighton all looking to force their way back in, with the latter yet to start a match all season.

Shane Long looked very decent against Wolves last time out and will prove a tough test for international teammate Richard Dunne and James Collins, if he is not 100% fit. Add to that that Peter Odemwingie is likely to return to the starting line-up and West Brom will certainly carry a threat up front.

West Brom won the last game between the sides despite going down to 10-men after a late equaliser from Youssuf Mulumbu made it 2-1. That scoreline is a particularly familiar one when these sides meet, with Villa winning 4 of the previous 5 matches between the teams by that amount. Villa’s defeat at the Hawthorns was their last loss prior to the Man City game in the league, spanning over a 14-game unbeaten run.

Villa’s record in home derbies is very good having lost just 1 of their last 15, winning 7 and drawing 7. In contrast the Baggies have only won 1 of their last 12 derbies on their travels, winning just 4, so Villa will certainly be favourites. The hosts will, however, need to be wary of a quick start from Albion, who have netted 5 of their 7 gaols this season in the opening 15 minutes. However, saying that, Villa have taken the lead in all of the 8 Premier League encounters against the Baggies, going on to win 5 of those.

Other than Villa’s 3-goal haul over Blackburn, neither side has netted more than twice in a match this season, netting once on 3 occasions each and twice on 2 occasions each, with all indications pointing to another 2-1. West Brom have only conceded 3 goals away from home all season, with 2 coming in the final 10 minutes of matches, though Villa have struggled to kill games off, failing to score after the 70 minute mark at Villa Park.

Pre-Match Predictions

Potential Starting XI (4-4-2): Given; Hutton, Collins, Dunne, Warnock; Bannan, Ireland, Petrov, N’Zogbia; Bent, Agbonlahor

Key Man: Gabby Agbonlahor

Goalscorer(s): Bannan, Agbonlahor

Final Score: Villa win 2-1

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