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Match Preview : Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion


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Match Preview : Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion

Kick off : Saturday 10th Jan @ 12:45

Venue : Villa Park

TV : Sky Sports One

Referee : Mike Riley

Aston Villa have become quite the scalp in recent times. Now quite familiar with top 4 surroundings and with the press being munificent in their praise; things have not looked brighter for the Villa in many's a long year. So they go into Saturday's local derby full of confidence. We are currently on an unbeaten league run of 8 games since the 2-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough on the 9th of November and are fresh from a hard fought victory against a determined and quite skilled Gillingham side in the FA Cup 3rd round. West Brom themselves come into this game in a bit of form having beaten Man Citeh and Spurs in their last 3 league games sandwiching a credible 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. They were, however, pegged back late in the cup by Peterborough, so their presence in round 4 is still on ice.

Villa's home form has been slightly worrying, though everything is relative. We still manage to be 5th overall in the 'home' league table and we are only 'worrying' at home because we are so damn good away from home (we have garnered more points away from home; 21 versus 17) where we sit 4th overall. Our last 5 home games have been disappointing though. We have won only once, drawn three times and lost one. So we definitely need to improve if we want to stay in the top 4.

Despite this being our derby game, it is one we would quietly expect to win if our aspirations really are champions league this season.

West Brom have tried to play football the right way from day one and they have stuck to that even as the going got tough. They are a passing team. They get the ball on the ground and they keep it there. This makes them quite good to watch and it means they are a decent possession team. However, we can't ignore the fact that they are bottom of the league. They have struggled to hit the back of the net this season and Roman Bednar is their leading scorer with 6 followed by Ishmael Miller (out for the season) on 3. They are the lowest scorers in the league with 16 compared to Villa's 33 (we rank 4th). Defensively they don't fare much better conceding 35 (18th) to our 22 goals (6th). What also doesn't bode well for them is that they have struggled badly away from home. Only 1 win, 1 draw and 3 goals scored in 10 away games this season. We've already turned them over at the Hawthorns and despite their relatively good recent form we should be disappointed with anything other than 3 points by the time everyone else kicks off in the afternoon. That's not to say it will be easy though. It rarely is for us; and being a derby will only add considerable spice to the occasion.

Villa will definitely be without Carlos Cuéllar (Hamstring), Wilfred Bouma (Ankle) and John Carew (back). They are sweating on the fitness of Gareth Barry who missed the Gillingham game with a groin strain but have received excellent news in the form of Martin Laursen being back in training and in contention for this game. It could be a few days too soon for him, but it will be a boost to the squad seeing their captain back nevertheless. Also, you would hope that Gabby Agbonlahor and Luke Young will recover from whatever phantom illnesses they picked up before the cup game.

West Brom's long term absentees Neil Clement, Ishmael Miller, Felipe Teixeira & Abdoulaye Meite will be joined on the sidelines by James Morrison (groin strain) and Gianni Zuiverloon (sore knee) if reports are to be believed. Both will be a massive blow for the Baggies as both have played in all but 2 of the Baggies' league games this season and are key to the first 11.

Man to watch : Scott Carson. It had to be really. Coming back to his old haunting ground will no doubt give him extra motivation to prove that we should have kept him. Whether he puts in a sterling performance or puts in one of his howlers, either way he'll be the one to watch and will likely be key to the outcome of the game given that we'll probably get more shots at him than they will at Brad.

Vila have played the Baggies 7 times in the Premier League and have won 3 and are yet to be beaten.

With Arsenal playing at home against Bolton, Villa really need to add another 3 points to their impressive tally to keep meaningful pressure on the Gunners' bid to re-assert themselves amongst the Premier League elite.

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Just want to congratulate you on an excellent Match Preview of the West Brom game. Lets hope Carson has another one of those days and we win. However, i really don't think there will be much in it, although West Brom's open passing game will suit us perfectly and we can catch them on the break! Regards, Ciaran.

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