The FourFourTwo Preview: West Brom vs Aston Villa
Monday's Midlands derby promises to be a feisty affair at The Hawthorns in what is a fixture that has frustrated Villa in recent seasons, none more so than when the sides last faced each other.
Albion battled from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw in the corresponding game back in January and are unbeaten against their local rivals since December 2010.
The last three encounters have finished all square and there is little to suggest that Monday's clash will be anything but tight as only goal difference separates the two teams at present in the Premier League.
Goals are a definite concern for Villa manager Paul Lambert as his players have failed to net in four of their last five outings, a run ended with the 2-0 win over Cardiff City prior to the international break.
Lambert, though, will be delighted by how his side have fared at the opposite end of the pitch in recent away games.
Villa have kept a clean sheet in their previous three matches on their travels, with Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic the last player to find a way past goalkeeper Brad Guzan away from home at the end of August.
Talisman and top scorer Christian Benteke, on target in the 2-2 draw against West Brom last term, will be given as long as possible by Lambert to prove his fitness after he sustained a knee injury while away on international duty with Belgium.
Andreas Weimann (hamstring), Ciaran Clark (foot), Fabian Delph (knee) and Antonio Luna (hamstring) are all available for selection again after their respective fitness battles, while Gabby Agbonlahor (ankle) has an outside chance of being in contention. Guzan is also fit after struggling with an ankle problem.
West Brom welcome Villa with manager Steve Clarke, who is set for talks over a new contract, keen to return to action after the controversy surrounding the award of Eden Hazard's converted 96th–minute penalty that denied his side victory at Chelsea a fortnight ago.
Albion's home form this season in the Premier League has been inconsistent, with two defeats, two wins and one draw the return from their five Hawthorns outings.
Clarke is boosted by striker Nicolas Anelka – who is still waiting to open his West Brom account – overcoming a groin injury that kept him out of the Chelsea game.
Winger Scott Sinclair (hamstring) also sat out the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, but could be poised to hand Clarke a welcome selection dilemma.
The Scot said: "Nico is training well and looking forward to the game on Monday night.
"I won't rule Scott out yet."