It only seems like five minutes ago that Tammy Abraham scored the winning goal against West Brom at Villa Park on Saturday. The playoff semi-final second leg is here and this is the game that matters. All the hard work on Saturday will count for nothing unless we turn up when we head to the Hawthorns tonight.
West Brom will have to come out and play. Something that they didn’t seem to want to do on Saturday. They were quite happy to waste time and try and hit us on the counter-attack. And on another day, they may have taken a 0-2 lead and we could have had very different prospect ahead of us.
But they don’t and we have a goal lead. It will be a fierce derby with a lot on the line and it really wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out to be a ‘we can score more than you game’.
I can’t really add too much to what I said in my preview on Saturday. James Shan will no doubt have his West Brom side well up for this game. The statistics from the first game back up what I stated earlier about West Brom’s tactics.
They had just 35.4% of the ball and only 5 shots on goal. West Brom was strong in the air, however. Shan’s men won 56.1% of the aerial duels, more than any other of the four playoff teams. It might be wise if Villa tries to avoid giving away pointless setpieces.
Villa has failed to win at the Hawthorns in their last seven attempts.
Dean Smith has no fresh injury problems for the second leg. James Chester is still a doubt while goalkeeper Orjan Nyland will be unavailable.
West Brom will be without striker Dwight Gayle following his second off on Saturday.
Hal Robson-Kanu is also suspended while Gareth Barry will sit out the game through injury. Jack Livermore and Craig Dawson are doubts.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Predicted XI: Steer; Elmohammady, Mings, Tuanzebe, Taylor; Hourihane, McGinn, Grealish; El Ghazi, Green; Abraham.
Kick Off: 20.00
TV: Sky Sports Football
Venue: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
Tickets: Sold out
Odds: West Brom 13/8 Aston Villa 13/8 Draw 23/10 (Skybet)