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Rupert Wyman 19th Mar 2010 - 23:01

Gabby the goalscorer

At lunchtime on Saturday, a Midland's derby will commence at Villa Park.

Aston Villa are trying to strengthen their position in the fight for the lauded Champions league spot, fourth position in the Premier League.

Aston Villa played midweek, grinding out a 2-1 victory at Wigan. Tottenham currently hold fourth spot but Villa have one game in hand and are only three points behind. So, they are very much involved in the fight for Champions League football next season.

Former Celtic manager Martin O'Neill laid to rest an unfavourable statistic against Wigan, that had seen him unable to win a league match in the month of March since he took the managerial seat at Villa Park in August 2006.

Wolves have started to put in the level of performance that can keep them in the Premier League. They beat fellow strugglers Burnley 2-1 last weekend and with the recent turmoil at Hull City and Portsmouth, a consistent run of form could guarantee their survival.

They are now three points clear of the drop zone, although they are the lowest scorers in the division with just twenty-three goals. If they are relegated at the end of the season, it will not be for lack of effort, just their inability to convert their chances.

Gabby Agbonlahor will be looking to extend his incredible record in recent local derbies, he has scored in all six of their most recent meetings with local rivals.

I would back Agbonlahor to score first at 10/3, as mentioned above - Wolves have an inability to score goals, let alone score first and their defence will find Gabby's pace difficult to contain.

He has the acceleration and ability to get around Wolves back-four and if he does not find the net, his team-mates can for Villa at a canter.

Agbonlahor has scored goals against far more resilient defences than Wolves. Aston Villa's strategy will revolve around using the width of the pitch, the onus will be on Downing and Young to stretch Wolves' five man midfield and feed some scintillating balls into the box.

McCarthy is without Edwards and Kightly (both ankle), while Iwelumo may start after a successful loan period at Bristol City. Villa's only noticeable absentee is Reo-Coker.

I would have a flutter on Aston Villa at Evens, to win both halves in the double result market. O'Neill relishes the cut and thrust approach of the derbies, after his time as manager of Celtic. Wolves stifled Villa for long periods in the 1-1 draw earlier in the season yet Villa have improved as the season has progressed.

There is little value in the Aston Villa ninety minute home win at 2/5, Villa have the character to score early and it could be the catalyst for a rout. Wolves need to cope with the giant figure of John Carew, he scored a hat-trick earlier this month in the FA Cup against Reading and he is a typical confidence player that needs minutes, if he is on-form he can terrorise the Wolves defence.

Although Wolves can take heart from their results at Liverpool and Tottenham earlier this season, Aston Villa's prerogative is a Champions League spot and they will not let McCarthy's band of journeymen stand in their way.  Wolves' destiny lies more in their ability to see off West Ham, in their next Premier League encounter after Villa .




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