Playoff Preview: Aston Villa v West Brom – 1st leg crucial for full strength Villa.

Villa start the playoff campaign on Saturday afternoon facing West Brom at Villa Park in the first of two legs.


Contributed by Korben O’Brien | Want to join The Team?


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LAST TIME OUT

Villa’s unbeaten 12 match championship run came to an end as Norwich City clinched the title.

Jonathan Kodjia cancelled out Teemu Pukki’s early goal with a fine equaliser but the Canaries were chirping when Mario Vranic hit a late winner.

Even so, Dean Smith’s men gave a good account of themselves on a day the manager rested a number of key players in readiness for the Play Offs.

Despite a lively start by the visitors, culminating in leading scorer Pukki opening the scoring, Villa gradually grew into the game.

We pulled ourselves deservedly level when Conor Hourihane delivered a menacing low free kick from the left and Kodjia’s deft flick carried the ball past Tim Krul.

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Top Gun Tammy

There was a lovely touch at half time when Tammy Abraham was presented with a special recognition award by CEO Chrisitan Purslow to mark his achievement in scoring 25 league goals this season.

Despite not making his debut until mid–September, the on-loan striker has equalled a feat last achieved by Andy Gray in 1976/77.

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Press Conference

On the prospect of promotion…

Dean Smith has spoken about the prospect of promotion.

That was the challenge when I came in here.

Unfortunately we didn’t get near the top two, but managed to get into the play offs.

They’re two difficult games. I know there’s been a lot of people out there saying we’re favourites, but Albion have been above us all season

For me they’re favourites and it’s about us trying to spoil their party.

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On training this week

I’ve noticed no different to be honest. Everything has been as normal as possible.

Sessions have been really good and we’ve been at the intensity we want.

McGinn: Unfinished Business

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John McGinn says Villa’s unfinished business is with the Play Offs, and not with West Bromwich Albion, ahead of the semi final double header.

Our player of the season has said he feels Villa are well equipped to achieve promotion this time around.

Everyone’s got the dream of getting this club back to the Premier League.

It’s not so much unfinished business with West Brom, it’s unfinished for a lot of these and the club, who experienced last years Wembley defeat.

They’ve spoken about how it was the worst moments of their careers, given how close they were to getting the job done.

We’re all determined to make it this time and finish the job.

PREDICTIONS

Korben’s Prediction:

My prediction for Saturday’s game is that it will be a tough game but i think with a fully fit squad and key players slotting back in i think Villa will take a victory going into the second leg.

Score: Aston Villa 3-1 West Brom – with Tammy Abraham and Jack Grealish to score two for Villa.

VillaUnderground.com Prediction:

This is a massive opportunity for Villa to get the upper-hand ahead of a far trickier journey to The Hawthorns for the return leg.  With six key players rested on the final day, we have a returning core of players who are both fresh and in superb form.  Smith isn’t known to be conservative in his approach and the fact we are armed with a potent attacking threat, plays to both our strengths and the manager’s style.  Added to the fact that defensively we are unrecognisable, we go into the first leg with justified confidence.

Score: Aston Villa 2-0 West Brom – El Ghazi & McGinn to get on the scoresheet.

Key Facts

  • Albion’s Hal Robson-Kanu will miss out due to suspension.
  • Aston Villa have a fully fit squad for the play off campaign.
  • This includes Tammy Abraham, who has recovered from a shoulder injury.
  • Villa have failed to win in either of their last four meetings vs. WBA.
  • Albion have beaten us on their last two visits to Villa Park.
  • However, West Brom won just twice on the road after this, conceding 14 times.
  • Before Tyrone Mings joined Aston Villa , Villa had conceded 46 goals in 29 games , however since he has joined we have only conceded 15 goals in 17 games.
  • Brunt is available for Albion but Livermore is expected to miss out.
  • Villa hauled back a seven point gap to the playoffs that existed after Albion won at Villa Park in February.
  • Both sides are high scorers – with only Norwich outscoring Villa & Albion in the league.
  • Albion have shipped a staggering 19 goals in their last 12 goals.
  • The visitors had the worst defensive record of any side in the top ten.
  • Villa have conceded just 8 times, for comparison, in the last 12 games.
  • The reverse fixture will be played out this coming Tuesday at The Hawthorns.

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