On Sunday afternoon, St Andrew’s will play host to one of the fiercest rivalries in the country, as Aston Villa face Birmingham City in a pride of the Midlands clash. While the visitors head into this one some six points off their neighbours, it’s Steve Bruce’s men who actually boast the better form of late.
But, as we’ve seen so often before, form goes out of the window on occasions like this.
Take the 2010-11 campaign for example – the last time these two sides met in the league. Despite the Blues finishing the season in the relegation zone while Villa ended up in a comfortable ninth-place, it was the blue side of the city that won the bragging rights that year, with two well-deserved draws along with a 2-1 victory in the League Cup.
However, on the whole in recent history, it’s Bruce’s side who have managed to chalk up more wins than their opponents, taking seven from their last 10 meetings, while that League Cup victory back in 2010 remains the only victory the St Andrew’s outfit can boast over their rivals since 2005.
And boy how things have changed since then.
Don’t expect a rush of red cards
For starters, the man now standing in the dugout for the Villans was then in charge of the Blues, and that victory marked six fixtures without defeat for City, their best ever unbeaten streak against their rivals.
But this is unfamiliar territory for the visitors, having been relegated from the Premier League for the first time in their history, while the Championship is a division which the hosts know all too well.
Rather surprisingly, this fixture hasn’t seen a red card since 2003 (15 games ago), although on average the fixture sees roughly four yellow cards per-game, meaning tempers often flare.
It’s Villa who’ve found the back of the net on more occasions in this fixture over the last 10 games between the two sides, having scored 16 to Birmingham’s six. Although there’s one man who’s unlikely to be on the teamsheet, which could prove to be a blessing for the home side.
Thought to be just a couple of weeks away from full fitness, Gabby Agbonlahor’s absence will give Birmingham a much needed confidence boost, with the home side looking to get themselves back in the play-off places.
The Brummie-born forward just loves a derby goal, with four strikes coming in his last seven appearances against the Blues. But one man who can potentially fill the 30-year-old’s boots is Jonathan Kodjia, who’s enjoying a fine run of form under his new boss, with three goals in as many games since the former Manchester United man took over.
The fact that Aston Villa are the away side, coupled with their current league position, means it comes as quite a surprise that they’re considered the 6/4 favourites to grab all three points.
While visiting fans may see that as great value, home supporters could be looking to take advantage of the 19/10 on offer for Blue to get back to winning ways and stretch the gap between themselves and their opponents to nine points.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing