Venue: St. Andrew’s
Date: Sunday 30th October 2016
Referee: Mike Dean
Birmingham City: D W L W L
Aston Villa: D L D W W
Last time the two teams met: 22nd September 2015 – Aston Villa 1 – 0 Birmingham City
Rudy Gestede‘s perfectly placed header sent Villa Park into a frenzy and gave Villa the bragging rights in their League Cup third-round encounter.
Back-to-back victories for Steve Bruce have changed the atmosphere around the club. Bruce has instilled a ‘never say die’ attitude that was missing under Roberto Di Matteo and his next test is the biggest game of the season. The Villans will be looking to draw on every bit of confidence that they have gained over the last two games when the enter the lions’ den that will be St. Andrew’s on Sunday.
Form means nothing in the second city derby but after Birmingham’s lacklusture performance against Burton Albion last Friday and Villa’s workmanlike victory over Fulham, the form guide has flipped completely in a couple of weeks. The weekend championship betting odds are struggling to split the two sides also with them suggesting it will be a draw.
Bruce is expected to make only one change ahead of the game with Albert Adomah replacing Rudy Gestede in the starting line-up, after Adomah came on and changed the game against Fulham whilst Gestede offered very little.
That will see Jonathan Kodjia move into a central position, looking to continue his fine goal-scoring form and bag his fourth goal in four games.
There may be a surprise inclusion in the match day squad for Gabby Agbonlahor but he is not likely to play any part in the game, as he is only two weeks into the six-week training programme that the club has put him on.
Gary Rowett’s players will be looking to bounce back from their defeat against Burton Albion and will surely be up for their first home game against the Villans since 2011. Last season’s defeat to Villa may be on the minds of his players and they will be wanting to re-write those wrongs and give their fans the bragging rights this year.
Micah Richards and Tommy Elphick will both miss the game with injuries that they picked up against Wolverhampton Wanderers two weeks ago.
Jack Grealish will also miss out, as he completes the last of his three match ban for a stamp on Conor Coady.
Long-term absentee Ritchie De Laet (knee) is the only other major casualty for Villa.
Rowett will be without Paul Caddis and Robert Tesche through injury, whilst Jonathan Grounds misses out after picking up his fifth booking of the season.
One to watch:
If the Villa boys are to steal the derby day spoils then they will need to get past Ryan Shotton. The former Stoke City defender has finally found a place that he can call home after spending most of his career on loan at clubs including Tranmere Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Derby County and Birmingham City.
His loan spell at Blues became a permanent deal in the summer and he has proven exactly what an impressive centre back he can be. During his time at Stoke City and Derby County, he was never given a run in his natural position but since being given that chance at Birmingham City he has flourished.
The twenty-seven-year-old, who turns twenty-eight on the day of the derby, has impressive aerial ability and should the visitors play the ball long Shotton would be favourite to win the ball back every time.
The best way for the Villans to play against the big centre half would be to try to get Kodjia, Adomah and Ayew in behind and trouble Shotton with their pace.