Aston Villa will make the short trip to the Hawthorns to take on WBA tonight. It will be there second away trip inside a week. Dean Smith will be hoping for a repeat performance and result as the one we witnessed against Middlesbrough.
Villa have been on some very good form recently. They are unbeaten in 5 Championship games, scoring 17 goals in the process. In fact, between Villa (39) and WBA (41), they have scored a combined 80 goals so far this season. You could say we should be in for a thriller!
Our away form has improved of late but if we are to be serious automatic promotion contenders then it needs to improve a lot more. We have won 3, drawn 3 and lost 4 on the road this campaign. Giving us 12 points from a possible 30!
West Brom tends to blow very hot and cold. Earlier in the campaign, some said they would run away with the league until they went on a run of no wins in four. Despite this, they sit 3rd in the Championship, just five points adrift of Norwich City at the top.
WBA have picked up 20 points at home with only three sides picking up more in the Championship (21). It won’t be an easy game but it isn’t impossible. Although they know where the net is, just like Villa, they concede plenty too (28).
West Brom are pretty good on the ball but love a good counter-attack. They average 14.5 shots per game, compared to Villas 14.7. Both sides are pretty poor in the area so we should see a good game of football with players passing and getting stuck in.
ONE TO WATCH
My one to watch in this game is Matt Phillips.
It would have been easy to pick one of the strikers who both have 9 goals each but Phillips has had a good season.
The winger already has 5 goals and 5 assists to his name so far this season.
The Scot is your classic winger. He will look to dribble, beat his man and cross the ball at every opportunity. He isn’t scared of shooting when required either.
Villa will be without Albert Adomah, Birkir Bjarnason and Henri Lansbury for the game against WBA.
Adomah is said to be still very sore despite Smith thinking he could be available last week. Bjarnason is back in light training but this game has come too early for the Icelandic midfielder.
HEAD TO HEAD
Tonight’s meeting will be the 168th meeting in all competitions between the two sides. Villa edge the head to head battle with 77 wins. WBA have won 54 with 36 games ending in draws.
No side has really edged the battle in recent times. WBA have won 2, Villa 3 and 1 draw in the last 6 meetings. Although 4 of the last 5 meetings at the Hawthorns have ended in draws.
The first-ever meeting between the two sides took place in 1885 in the FA Cup and guess what? It ended in a draw!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Predicted XI: Nyland; Elmohamady, Chester, Tuanzebe, Taylor; McGinn, Hourihane; Bolasie, Grealish, El-Ghazi; Abraham.
Kick Off: 20.00
TV: Sky Sports Football
Tickets: Sold out.
Odds: WBA 5/4 Aston Villa 21/10 Draw 13/5 (William Hill)