PREVIEW: Villa head to City

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Grealish is expected to leave but can they keep hold of McGinn

Aston Villa will travel across the City for the Second City derby with Birmingham City. Dean Smith’s men will be feeling much better following the 4-0 win over Derby County last weekend. Smith will hope his side can build on this when they take on Gary Monk’s overachieving Birmingham side.

The return of Jack Grealish has really lifted the morale around B6 but as we all know that will mean nothing come Sunday. The form tables are ripped up when Villa and Blues do battle.

Villa currently sits 2 points behind Birmingham and 3 places in the league. Monk’s men are not great at home but at the same time don’t lose many. They have drawn 8 games at St Andrew’s this season which has been their only downfall. Villa’s away form represents where they are in the Championship. 19 points from a possible 51. Average at best.

THE OPPOSITION

No Birmingham City supporter will tell you they have had a bad season. They are achieving well above expectation. Monk has done a fantastic job on a very small budget.

Their recent results have been very hard to predict. They have beat Bristol City and Nottingham Forest but lost to the likes of Bolton Wanderers.

They have the third-highest average rating in the division of 6.84. Only Norwich and Sheffield United’s players have a better average rating.

Birmingham has won more ariel duels than anyone in the Championship with 54.7% successful duels. Monk’s side will take an aggressive approach and look to shoot and cross at every opportunity. As they showed at Villa Park this season, Villa will have to be at their best to come away with anything.

TEAM NEWS

McGinn is available against BirminghamVilla will be without Tommy Elphick for four weeks. The defender injured his heel against Derby last weekend. Birmingham fans will be pleased that Alan Hutton is not available. Neil Taylor is expected to replace Elphick with Kortney Hause moving into the middle.

John McGinn is available for selection after finishing his suspension.

Birmingham will be without Gary Gardner and Maxime Colin. Colin has a hamstring injury while Gardner is not allowed to play against his parent club.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Predicted XI: Steer; Elmohammady, Hause, Mings, Taylor; Whelan, Hourihane; Grealish, Adomah, El-Ghazi; Abraham.

Kick Off: 12.00
TV: Sky Sports Football
Venue: St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium
Tickets: 2,200 (sold out)
Odds: Birmingham 13/8 Aston Villa 13/8 Draw 23/10

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