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Nic Ladds 30th Nov 2010 - 12:37

Nobody wants to be second best in the second city derby

With neither side on great league form, a cup run coupled with a big win over their city rivals could be just the tonic for one of these sides.

Birmingham (7/5) are on a pretty torrid run of form in the league and their 1-0 home win over Chelsea has just glossed over some worrying form for Alex McLeish's men. Since their 2-1 home win over Blackburn on August 21st they have won just two of the following 13 matches.

They have drawn seven of those and lost four, it just shows how Birmingham have struggled to kill off matches. Goals have been the major problem; they are scoring an average of just 1.07 goals per match and conceding 1.2 goals.

Aston Villa (21/10) are on an equally poor run in the league, their 3-2 home win over Blackpool is their only three points in nine matches. Villa will surely be going into this match with no fear of their city rivals as in the 11 cup matches between the two, Birmingham have won just one.

Looking at the league table, they are sandwiched together in the lower mid-table region, both with just 17 points from 15 matches and just three points above the drop zone.

This is a cup match and squads could differ dramatically to the league but as confidence is low in both camps and these sides met just over a month ago and played out a dull 0-0 stalemate - I would be wary of the draw.

If you are not put off by backing the draw then 21/10 is available but if you prefer going for a side then I would look at the "to qualify" markets . Birmingham are 4/6 and Aston Villa are 11/10 to make it to the next round by any means and it is certainly the way of covering your bases.

Villa could just edge this match for me, with Houllier still trying to win the home fans over and Birmingham boss Alex McLeish pretty blasé about the whole competition, the Villa squad selected could be out to show why they deserve to be higher than they are.

Big names such as Nikola Zigic and Alexander Hleb are expected to be rested and as McLeish has picked reserve teams so far - expect the likes of Cameron Jerome (9/2 first goal) to line up with Matt Derbyshire (15/2 to score first) in attack.

Aston Villa's rough period is mainly down to their massive injury crisis and they remain without 10 players through injury or illness. If fit, Gabriel Agbonlahor (5/1 first goal) has to be the pick to score first for The Villans as he has scored in three of his last four derbies with Birmingham.

I do expect both sides to go for it as they don't really have too much to lose and everything to gain. As The Blues have only kept one clean sheet in their last 12 League Cup matches at St Andrews I think both teams will get on the scoresheet and at 5/6 it is very backable.

With both sides on poor form and struggling in the league, this match is really down to nothing more than local pride as both managers would much prefer to see their side move up the league. Tempers could rise and our match winner offer of any player to be sent off in 90 minutes is available at 5/1.



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