When Albion and Villa met for the double-header in March last year, it was the Villains who came out on top in both games helping to kick start their season which resulted in them comfortably avoiding relegation and getting hammered by Arsenal in the FA Cup Final.
This season, the Witton-based club are in a much worse position stranded at the bottom of the Premier League with just 10 points and in need of an average of nearly 2 points a game in order to avoid the drop. A four match unbeaten run, including two FA Cup ties with League Two Wycombe Wanderers, has given them hope but Albion will be aiming to dash that by taking all three points at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
While Albion’s results against Villa have improved in recent seasons having lost just two of the last ten fixtures in the Premier League, a league double has remained elusive. Victory this weekend would produce a first top flight league double over Villa since the 1964/65 season when a 1-0 win at Villa Park was followed up by a 3-1 win at the Hawthorns in February 1965 with Jeff Astle, Bobby Cram (pen) and Bobby Hope on the scoresheet for the Baggies.
After a tired performance at Southampton, Albion put in a solid, if unspectacular, display at Ashton Gate to ensure a place in the FA Cup Fourth Round. It was a much more disciplined display than the first match against the Championship strugglers, and it was pleasing to see Salomón Rondón on the scoresheet after a dry few months. It was a cool, calm finish from the Venezuelan and the sort of chance I think he will thrive on if he can get enough service. A goal or two on Saturday would certainly help to endear him further to the Baggies fans.
Despite Villa’s mini-recovery, Albion should be confident of victory against the Premier League’s worst side. Obviously, the old sayings about form counting for nothing when it comes to local derbies cannot be ignored, but Aston Villa have been truly awful for much of the season, and you can always point to a certain game at Molineux in February 2012 for when the form book held true.
If Albion go out to attack from the beginning and can get an early goal, Villa’s frailties will most likely be laid bare. Villa do have some dangerous players, but the likes of Jordan Ayew and Carles Gil have produced infrequently this season, and their defence has proven to be far too porous. Albion should have too much for Villa, but I’m sure that Tony Pulis will not allow them to be in the least bit complacent.
The visitors have doubts over Gabby Agbonlahor, Jack Grealish and Alan Hutton, and Carlos Sanchez is due to have a fitness test before the match. Adama Traoré remains sidelined.
Albion’s injury list is as long as it has been all season. While Ben Foster has returned, James Morrison now faces a long spell on the sidelines and there are doubts over Chris Brunt, Jonas Olsson and Darren Fletcher. Victor Anichebe came very close to completing 90 minutes at Bristol City on Tuesday, and he could feature again, although Saido Berahino is now recovered from the stomach bug that kept him out of the last two games.
Villa’s recent victories have been against League Two Wycombe and Crystal Palace, who are in just as poor form as Villa. I can’t Albion succumbing to the nearest neighbours, and I’m predicting a narrow victory for the hosts.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
19 Sep 2015 – Premier League
Aston Villa 0
West Brom 1 (Berahino)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
13 Dec 2014 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Gardner)
Aston Villa 0
Albion’s Record against Aston Villa
|Premier League Record|