Preview: Blues v Ast*n V*lla

It’s finally upon us, Bluenoses. The most highly anticipated second-city derby since the League Cup fixture in 2011. Blues haven’t beaten the second most successful club in Birmingham this century in 14 league games – it’s time for that dire streak to be put to the sword.

Build Up

The 130th second-city derby promises to be a pulsating one. There are two points to separate the two teams going into the game, Blues will further the gap to five points if they come out victorious on Sunday afternoon. Without a doubt, it’s outrageously evenly poised.

Garry Monk’s Blues head into the clash having won three in six. V*illa, on the other hand, have just the one victory in their last six – the 4-0 drubbing of Derby County last Saturday. Typical, I hear you say.

Despite Blues’ cheeky request, Gary Gardner is definitely out of the game and this leaves Monk with a dilemma. One would expect Blues to return to the diamond formation, with either Craig Gardner or David Davis coming into the fold.

Jack Grealish, the bloke who spends 75% of games on the deck, is set to start at St. Andrews for the first time in his career, here’s hoping Maikel Kieftenbeld gives him the warm welcome he deserves.

Dean Smith’s side are also expected to start both Kortney Hause and Tyrone Mings at centre back, and that inexperienced pairing is something Blues must target.

The Stats

V*lla haven’t won at St. Andrews in their last four visits.

Blues’ last league win over V*lla came in 2005.

Garry Monk has won more matches against V*lla than he has against any other club.

Pre-match Quotes

Garry Monk:

I’ve been looking forward to it, St Andrew’s. I enjoyed the Villa Park one even though I was disappointed with the result but this will be a special one I think.

St Andrew’s, packed house, a committed team – I’m sure that’s what you’re going to see.

On paper, offensively especially, they have the best quality of players in the league without a doubt and we’re going to have to be very good defensively.

But we have our own strengths as well. We’re at St Andrew’s, let’s not forget that, and we want to use that to our advantage.

Dean Smith:

We probably haven’t had the personnel to make as many changes as we would like.

We have had to flip the system at times to suit players we have got as well.

I think people saw what we could do when we had the players available to us.

You lose the quality of those players. James Chester, Tuanzebe, Jack Grealish. We have had John McGinn missing as well. It makes a difference.

Kane Styles is a third year Sports Journalism student studying in Leeds. Alongside writing for WeAreBirmingham, Kane is the online editor of MadeInBrum and also blogs for the Birmingham Mail.

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