This is a big local derby. It’s now also a massive promotion clash.
Whether Villa versus West Brom is a “true” derby or a “fierce rivalry” is a conversation that will run and run.
The Hawthorns is just over 3 miles from Villa Park. It’s also the 9th closest in terms of two clubs proximity to one another in England, so this is very much a local affair.
For comparison, Villa Park and St Andrews are 2.5 miles apart.
In terms of it feeling like a “true” derby, there is also a generational aspect. Villa/Blues is a big-city derby by nature of the geography, but the fact is that there were long periods where the clubs rarely competed.
This has seen the relevance of Villa facing Albion growing in modern times.
However, what had evolved into a mainstay of the Premier League calendar, now finds itself in The Championship.
Albion are without doubt a dangerous team, under the calm leadership of Darren Moore and are themselves attempting to build a steady upward trajectory.
Albion’s recent form is interesting and difficult to interpret.
Wins against bottom side Ipswich and indifferent Swansea can reasonably be marked “to be expected”. A 4-1 drubbing of Leeds underlines United’s erratic form as much as Albion’s qualities. Further, a drab, at times wasteful and ultimately disappointing home draw against Brentford should give cause for optimism amongst Villa fans.
Villa go into the game looking to properly strike at the playoffs for the first time this season. Indeed, if results go in our favour, we could climb to a heady fifth.
Irrelevant of this, any victory would itself represent a massive additional confidence boost at a key moment of the campaign.
Something to get you in the mood for Friday night?
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