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Stuart Dalgleish 12th Sep 2009 - 20:08

Midlands kings Villa will leave McLeish feeling Blue

Aston Villa might have got off to a poor start but after back-to-back victories they look good value at 6/5 to overcome boring Birmingham City.

Martin O'Neill's side caused all sorts of problems for Liverpool in their 3-1 success at Anfield and were well worth their win, Birmingham on the other hand have been far less impressive this season only managing one win - with an injury time penalty required to see off Portsmouth.

Worse still for Alex McLeish is his record against O'Neill - while the Scot was in charge of Rangers he only managed seven wins over Celtic compared to ten for his Old Firm rivals.

It didn't get any better for 'Big Eck' when he took charge of his first Midlands derby in Birmingham's last season in the Premier League, his side were hammered 5-1 by a rampant Villa side - their fourth consecutive league defeat to the Villans.

Birmingham can point to a fairly decent home record, having not lost in ten Premier League games at St Andrew's, however Villa were excellent on the road last season - before the wheels fell off at the end of the campaign they won six consecutive games away from Villa Park and ten in total; more than all but three teams.

With Villa's speed and trickery down the wings and their aerial presence I just can't see how City are going to stop Villa from scoring; and one player in particular who has enjoyed scoring against Birmingham is Gabby Agbonlahor - the pacy forward has notched in his last two appearances against the Blues and also scored in his last Premier League game, at 6/1 he could be a great shout to open the scoring.

The hosts are 12/5 to take all three points, something they haven't done against Villa for four years, and they haven't won in five Premier League Midlands matches. The draw is available at 11/5 and the visitors are an attractive looking 6/5 - considering they've won five out of six Midlands derbies away from home it looks a steal.

Last season, despite earning automatic promotion, the Blues only scored 54 goals - three less than relegated Norwich, they really need somebody to start banging them in this time or it will be another season of struggle for McLeish's team.

Could Christian Benitez be that man? The Ecuadorian has featured four times from the bench without scoring so far but what better time to open your account than in the big derby match, the tiny striker is a 7/1 shot to grab the first of the match.

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Birmingham v Aston Villa - Sunday 12:00

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