Boing In Form Baggies On A Roll
A promising point on Tyneside followed by a deserved home victory against Swansea looked to have ignited the Paul Lambert era at Villa Park. However, that spark was well and truly extinguished at St Marys last Saturday when a second half deluge of Southampton goals resulted in a 4-1 win for the Saints.
West Brom make the short trip across the West Midlands in absolutely terrific form. The Baggies go into the weekend fourth in the table, largely on the back of excellent home form that has seen them pick up three wins out of three at The Hawthorns, including victories against Liverpool and high-flying Everton. On the road, they've had mixed results but did manage a creditable draw at Tottenham.
This match might not have the hatred of the Villa v Birmingham derby or even the intensity that surrounds the West Brom v Wolves rivalry but make no mistake, this is a proper derby match. With history going back 127 years, this will be the 159th meeting of these two West Midland rivals, Villa, historically the bigger and more successful club having won 74 to Albion's 52. However Villa have failed to beat West Brom in their past three meetings (D1, L2) and the Baggies 2-1 win at Villa Park in October 2011 was their first win there in 32 years.
Paul Lambert claimed that "confidence is sky-high" among his Villa players after their surprise win at Manchester City in the League Cup in midweek. Gabriel Agbonlahor scored two in that game, which leaves Lambert with a selection dilemma up front. Winger Brett Holman has recovered from the knee injury that caused him to miss that midweek League Cup win at the Etihad.Joe Bennett suffered a leg injury in that game and is a doubt, while Stephen Ireland misses out with a broken wrist.
Albion's main worry concerns the fitness of the former Villa and Birmingham player Liam Ridgewell. The defender has been an ever-present so far this term, in a team that have kept six clean sheets in their past 10 Premier League matches.
Aston Villa v West Brom Opta Facts
• Six of the last eight Premier League meetings between Villa and West Brom have ended with a 2-1 score line, while the other two finished 0-0.
• After winning five and losing none of the first nine Premier League meetings with West Brom, Villa have lost two and won none of the last three.
• Aston Villa have won just one of their last 15 Premier League games (W1 D6 L8).
• 10 points after five games is West Brom's best ever start to a Premier League season.
• In the Premier League era, only in 1997-98 (three points) have Villa had a worse record than the four points that they have accrued after five matches this campaign.
• Villa have won just three of their last 17 Premier League home games (W3 D5 L9), a run which started with defeat against West Brom in October last year.
• West Brom have won just one of their last eight Premier League away games (W1 D3 L4).
• The Baggies have kept just two clean sheets in their last 40 Premier league away games, though one came against a team managed by Paul Lambert (Norwich last season) and the other against Liverpool where current boss Steve Clarke was assistant.
• West Brom have allowed the opposition more shot on target from outside the box than any other team in the Premier League this season (11).
• Aston Villa have scored the joint-most goals from outside the box (two, along with Newcastle).
Aston Villa 6/4 Draw 2/1 West Brom 2/1
Darren Bent to score anytime & Villa to win 7/2
Romelu Lokaku to score anytime & West Brom to win 5/1
Aston Villa 1-0 15/2
Aston Villa 2-1 8/1
Aston Villa 2-0 11/1
West Brom 1-0 17/2
West Brom 2-1 10/1
West Brom 3-2 33/1
Darren Bent 5/1, Christian Benteke 6/1, Shane Long 13/2, Romelu Lokaku 13/2, Gabriel Agbonlahor 13/2