Birmingham vs Aston: Preview

Blues welcome our neighbours from B6 to St Andrews tomorrow, for their biggest game of the season.

Build Up

After a fantastic performance against Cardiff City, Blues put in a poor performance and lost 2-0 to Millwall.

This weekends derby game sees form generally go out the window. Players will have to deal with the pressure of derby day aswell as the St Andrews atmosphere and the baying sell out crowd.

Villa sit 5th in the championship table with 5 wins out of 6 pushing them into the play off positions. Blues meanwhile are 21st and are struggling for consistency.

Steve Cotterill will have been extremely dissappointed with the Millwall game and will want to see a big turn around. Far too many players have not performed to the standard he would have expected and we might see some changes to the team that lost at the New Den.

Its time for Blues to really step up the game and take control of the second city derby. The players know whats expected. The fans will no doubt do their bit, its up to the players to do theirs.

Opposition Opinion

I asked Villa fan and Blogger, Matt, for his opinions:

It’s been a steady season so far. A solid start against Norwich followed by 3 fairly unconvincing draws left mega spending Villa far from where they expect and want to be. A definite revival of late has seen us win 5 of our last 6. For simplicity, we won’t talk about half-hearted cup exploits.

Bruce still has work to do to become the all convincing manager that Villa have begged for since forever. With the spending and expectations of a new and ambitious owner, there has been sudden strong pressure following a spell of too many poor draws which has somewhat eased with recent form. A diabolical display against a very good Wolves side is the biggest blot on the copybook of recent games, failures in the setup, failure to react tactically to a midfield being totally overrun and two strikers unable to get a foothold at all – not rectified until the 80th minute.

It is still examples like this that plagued us through our run of draws that continue to put the pressure on Bruce; seemingly no plan B or very late to react to the game in front of him. His reputation at Championship level is undeniable and that isn’t just lost overnight, so the fans and club do need to stick right now and give time to continue to build and gel a team all of his own. Villa were barely a Championship level team when they were relegated, never mind Premiership level and as such is the task of the rebuilding of a whole squad.

There have been some standout stories that Bruce can take credit for this season. Sam Johnstone was a smart move on another season long loan. Still young and learning his trade, but there has definitely been real potential shown. John Terry is now really showing his experience and leadership at the back, James Chester at his side has really formed a solid partnership. There’s no doubt that the Bruce name and reputation had a part in Terry joining the Villa. Onomah and O’Hare have shown real flair and Hourihane is finally showing glimpses of the quality he had shown at Barnsley. Moving Adomah to an inside forward role on the left has really unleashed his form. Bruce has shown real faith in young Davis who looks strong and intelligent, he just needs to get his composure together and really start banging the goals in with Kodjia to repay that faith and realise his potential.

Going in to the game, it is a tough one to call as the derby always is. Blues’ form is real sketchy with Villa being one of the in form teams in the league. 2 home wins on the bounce has to help Blues with confidence going into the game, although Villa have seemingly banished some of their away day issues with one loss on the road down at the Molineux. Taking the derby element away, I would be going for a Villa win. Riding on a fairly big positive wave, showing some real quality and strong form on the road whilst Birmingham City are struggling for consistency. However, form can be pretty much thrown out of the window and with the added Bruce element (which really isn’t worth dwelling on too much) this really can go either way. Gabby seems to be a doubt and this is pretty much the only fixture where that can be seen as a big negative for Villa. I am still going to call a Villa win, but it will be definitely be one for both teams to score. 3-1 Villa.

Lineups

Steve Cotterill went unchanged in his second game at Millwall last week, and it didn’t turn out brilliantly… It’s quite possible he will have worked with his side and remain unchanged on Sunday. One of the players receiving criticism from supporters is Jacques Maghoma, and it’s quite possible he could make way for Jota in the derby. David Davis is known for upping his game for derby games against Wolves and Villa, meanwhile N’Doye will offer a challenge against John Terry and James Chester.

For this game we’ve got recent Birmingham City Hall of Fame inductee, Martin Grainger, who went with a pretty much unchanged team, bringing in Craig Gardner for N’Doye. Martin predicts it to be 1-1 at half time with Che Adams scoring, then Blues nicking it in the second half and winning 2-1.

Martin also had the following to say on the game:

For the game I expect 200% commitment they owe it to the supporters for under achieving so far. Knowing Bruce, Vile will be well drilled and organised.

Played for both

Quite a few players have made the swap from Villa to Blues and vice versa, some with more success than others

Curtis Davies

Centre half Davies has played for and captained West Brom and Villa. He joined the Blues after failing to really make a impact at villa Park

Liam Ridgewell

Ridgewell’s time at Blues was very up and down, or round and round, like his windmills. He scored some important goals but was prone to mistakes and they usually led to an opposition goal. He currently plays for Portland Timbers in the MLS.

Kevin Phillips

As players who have crossed the great divide, Kevin Phillips is probably one of the best. A long career with Sunderland saw him become a cult hero at the Stadium Of Light, scoring 130 goals in over 230 games he was one of the Premier Leagues all time great goal scorers.

After spells at Southampton and Villa he joined West Brom, Scoring 46 goals in 81 games saw him become a fans favourite at The Hawthorns. After his contract expired at the end of the 2007 season he joined the Blues.

He helped Blues bounce back into the Premier League after 1 year in the championship, scoring 14 goals.

Also on the list are current Blues midfielder Craig Gardner, current Baggies back up keeper Boaz Myhill, Blues fan and midfielder Robert Hopkins and Tony Morley.

Previous Meetings

Blues 3-0 Aston Villa

16th September 2002

The first derby game in the Premier League between the two teams saw Blues run out 3-0 winners. In front of a packed St Andrews including myself in the Tilton Rd end, Clinton Morrison, THAT goal from Peter Enckelman and a Geoff Horsfield third saw Blues take all 3 points and the all important bragging rights.

Blues 2-1 Aston Villa

1st December 2010

Blues welcomed Villa to St Andrews for the League Cup 5th round game. Seb Larsson opened the scoroing for the blues from the penalty spot before a Gabriel Agbonlahor equalised. With extra time on its way Nikola Zigic deflected effort sent St Andrews wild and Blues on their way to a 6th round tie against West Ham. The rest they say is history.

Aston Villa 1-0 Blues

23rd April 2017

The most recent meeting between the two sides saw Villa take victory and give Harry Redknapp a losing start to his short time in charge of Blues. A second half goal from Gabby Agbonlahor gave Steve Bruces men all three points.

Referee

Andrew Madley

The all important man in charge for Sundays game is Andrew Madley. He last took charge of Blues way back in April when we visited Ipswich at Portman Road. Has given out 34 yellow cards in 14 games and no reds. May be worth noting

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Former season ticket holder in the Tilton. Originally from Solihull but now exiled in Leicestershire

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