Aston Villa must reverse derby trend in first of two Baggies battles
Aston Villa have won just one of the last eight West Midlands derbies with West Bromwich Albion, yet Coral make Tim Sherwood’s side narrow 8/5 favourites to buck the recent trend in this fixture.
Last January, the Baggies lost a seven-goal thriller at Villa Park, but look much more resolute under Tony Pulis than Pepe Mel or Alan Irvine. Albion are 7/4 for an away win, with a draw priced at 11/5.
Goals are obviously Villa’s problem, with the widely quoted stat of them being the lowest scorers in English league football this term with a paltry baker’s dozen (that’s 13 for anyone under 30) in the top-flight.
Being on target could prove a struggle for West Brom here too, however, as there are fitness doubts over leading marksman Saido Berahino (foot), a rejuvenated Brown Ideye and Victor Anichebe, who has a groin problem. If the former pair are out, that is a big blow to the Baggies, as they have contributed seven of the club’s last eight goals.
Callum McManaman (5/1 in the anytime market) and Stephane Sessegnon (shorter at 9/4) could deputise leading the attack for Albion, though punters may rightly feel Pulis is playing his cards close to his chest with the above trio because of the two derbies in quick succession.
Sherwood, meanwhile, can be encouraged by the form of Villa loan signing Scott Sinclair. The Manchester City-owned winger faces a former club here, and has netted in both of his previous two home games. Odds of 11/4 say Sinclair shall score again anytime.
Baggies midfielder Craig Gardner started his club career at Villa Park, and he grabbed the winner in this term’s reverse fixture. Back him to haunt Villa again by being on target once more at 5/1.
The hosts welcome skipper Ron Vlaar back from suspension, but Matt Lowton may have to deputise at left back again with major doubts over Aly Cissokho and Kieran Richardson.
A score draw of 1-1 is appealing at 5/1, and reflects the team news and potential lack of goals in this game.