Derby games are notoriously difficult to predict. It often can be one moment which sparks a positive result. None more so than in a Second City derby which has been tightly contested in recent times. It is the perfect game for players which could turn them into heroes with supporters.
The way the two teams set up and with current results, I can see Sunday being particularly tight. Garry Monk will have his team well organised and compact. Being away from home, I think they will set up with a defensive approach and look to play towards their target man, Lukas Jutkiewicz. They will try to turn defence in to attack quickly and hit Villa on the counter-attack.
Villa will no doubt have a lot of the ball and will have to be at their best to break them down. Something we have notoriously struggled with in the past. This is why I believe we will need a derby day hero or heroes to step up.
I have taken a look at three players who I believe could prove to be the difference on Sunday.
It is clear to see that Abraham has improved since Dean Smith became Villa manager. He appears to be more aware of his defensive responsibility as the main striker. Or he is being coached in a manner and under a philosophy which has reinforced this.
In recent weeks he has missed chances that you would expect a player of his calibre to score. Abraham’s height and physical attributes add another dimension to the team. Should we be able to get the ball to Tammy’s feet, I think we will find success.
He has the ability to turn and beat the opposition quickly or hold up the ball bringing his teammates into the game. The striker may not score many spectacular goals but he knows when to be in the right place at the right time. Will he be afforded the space on Sunday and join the list of derby day heroes?
Grealish. The Villa fan. The man who knows the feelings between the two clubs better than anyone else in the squad. He is probably the player who Villa fans would love to score more than anyone else.
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish1) December 24, 2011
He openly tweeted back in 2011 that he would love nothing more than to score the winner against Blues in front of the Holte End. We would take the winner either end, we are not picky!
Consistency has been Jack’s biggest problem throughout his career. I am hoping the goal against Bolton this season could be the turning point this season for him. My biggest worry is that he tries to hard. Birmingham will pinpoint him before the game and will target him but this is nothing new.
Grealish appears to have matured during the few years in the Championship. His mindset will be well and truly be tested this weekend. I hope he can revel in the pressure on and off the pitch. It is the sort of game where he can be the difference. He has the ability to grab the game by the scruff of the next and provide that little bit of magic. In a game that space will be at a premium, let’s hope he can find enough to make an impact.
It could have been so easy to name Yannick Bolasie as one of my potential Derby day heroes. I believe his recent cameos will rightfully warrant him a position in the starting 11 ahead of Kodjia. But I just have that feeling that Sunday could be Kodjia’s day. I really feel he come to become a real big impact substitute.
There is a huge difference in squad depth between the two sides. It wouldn’t surprise me if the game was at a stalemate as we approach the final stages of the game. This is where I believe Kodjia could be key. Against a tired defence, his pace and trickery may be just enough to make him one of this Sunday’s heroes.
Regardless, whoever it is that proves themselves the difference on Sunday, will cement their position in Villa history.