The FourFourTwo Preview: West Brom vs Aston Villa
A West Midlands derby (not THE West Midlands derby).
West Brom will have spent much of the last fortnight seething. The controversial penalty award in the dying seconds of their previous Premier League fixture at Chelsea - when Ramires took a tumble having seemingly run directly into Steven Reid in the visitors' penalty area - ultimately cost the Baggies two points.
WEST BROM FORM
- Chelsea 2-2 WBA (Prem)
- WBA 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-1 WBA (Prem)
- Stoke 0-0 WBA (Prem)
- WBA 1-1 Arsenal (Prem)
ASTON VILLA FORM
- Villa 2-0 Cardiff (Prem)
- West Ham 0-0 Villa (Prem)
- Villa 0-2 Everton (Prem)
- Villa 0-2 Spurs (Prem)
- Hull 0-0 Villa (Prem)
Manager Steve Clarke has this week confirmed that, fortunately, he has received an apology from referees' chief Mike Dean, meanthing everything is now all fine and dandy. Obviously.
In any case, that performance and result - still a creditable draw, after all - should give them plenty of encouragement ahead of what is these days the only West Midlands derby the Premier League has the resources to serve up (other than the reverse fixture at Villa Park, of course).
Villa, meanwhile, will have been more content over the international break. They beat Cardiff 2-0 in their last Premier League fixture, ending a run of four games without a win.
The two results leave the pair level on 14 points and, again, it will be Paul Lambert's side who are happier with that. At the same stage of last season, Villa had just nine points and were sat just one place above the relegation zone. West Brom, meanwhile, were in fifth on 20, only outside the top four on goal difference.
West Brom are again set to be without Nicolas Anelka (groin) and Scott Sinclair (hamstring), while keeper Boaz Myhill is a doubt with an Achilles injury which saw him miss Wales' 1-1 draw with Finland.
Villa's biggest concern is the fitness of Christian Benteke, who limped out of training with Belgium on Sunday. Reports suggest the extra rest before Monday's match will give him a good chance of making a return, but Villa still have doubts over Antonio Luna (hamstring) and Andreas Weimann (hamstring). Gabriel Agbonlahor and Fabian Delph may both return after missing the previous two league outings.
Key battle: Mulumbu vs Westwood
Youssouf Mulumbu - one of the Premier League's most underrated players and a consistent performer in West Brom's midfield - was imperious in the Baggies' draw at Chelsea. He made more ball recoveries (8), interceptions (7) and blocks (2) than any other player on the pitch, as well as 4 tackles. Ashley Westwood is arguably the most creative player in a Villa midfield full of destroyers and simple passers. Against Cardiff, he created 3 chances for team-mates - more than any other Villa player.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- WBA 2-2 Villa (Prem, Jan 13)
- Villa 1-1 WBA (Prem, Sep 12)
- WBA 0-0 Villa (Prem, Apr 12)
- Villa 1-2 WBA (Prem, Oct 11)
- WBA 2-1 Villa (Prem, Apr 11)
Clarke and Lambert have met twice (as managers, they've probably bumped into one another at various functions down the years, though surprisingly their international careers didn't overlap). Both matches - meetings between the same clubs in last season's Premier League - ended in draws, 1-1 at Villa Park and 2-2 at The Hawthorns.
Facts and figures
- 10 of the 14 goals scored by West Brom in the Premier League against Villa have come in the second half.
More facts at FFT's West Brom vs Aston Villa Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
- Since 2004, in the 12 fixtures between these teams, Aston Villa have scored first 9 times.
- There have been 4 red cards in their last 11 encounters.
- Separated by a solitary goal in the table, both these two sides have provided at least 3 goals in 7 of their last 10 respective home/away games against middle-third clubs.
Find the best odds with Bet Butler
A fourth straight draw between these near-neighbours. 1-1.