Whilst our pantomime Villains in the form of a retired Gabby Agbonlahor and injured Alan Hutton can’t be rolled out this time around, Sunday’s game has something more than rivalry riding upon it.
For Villa, a win is essential to keeping the hopes of promotion via the playoffs alive. No more ground can be conceded to teams around us; least of all Birmingham City.
Contributed by Korben O’Brien | Edited by Dan Rogers
Villa are back in action this Sunday afternoon making a short trip across the divide to face ‘Second City’ rivals Birmingham City in a televised lunch-time clash at St Andrews.
We returned to winning ways in spectacular fashion last weekend, demolishing play-off contenders Derby County 4-0.
Smith’s men dominated the opening period and had the match sealed by half time; before cruising comfortably through the second half in second gear.
Pleasingly midfielder Conor Hourihane scored twice, Tammy Abraham netted his 21st of the season and fan favourite Jack Grealish celebrated his return from injury with an outrageous volley.
Blues have only won one of their last three home games at St Andrews.
Their key player is Che Adams; he’s topping the goalscoring charts for them.
They say one player doesn’t make a team, but there is simply no denying the fact that Villa have struggled massively during Jack Grealish’s lengthy absence with a bone stress injury.
But the spark was soon back as the classy forward returned to the starting eleven; now proudly wearing the captain’s armband for the first time ever in his Villa career.
Dean Smith spoke at his press conference that he has a “major selection headache” ahead of the clash at St Andrews this Sunday.
One of the stand-out players of the season so far, John McGinn, becomes available this weekend after serving a two-match suspension missing the games vs Stoke City and Derby County.
Smith will likely spend the next couple of nights pondering whether to throw McGinn back into the mix at Birmingham, or stick with the midfield trio that engineered the 4-0 demolition of Derby. It’s a tough decision to make, one that if called wrong, could have major ramifications for our aspirations this term.
Looking ahead to the Blues fixture, Smith is relishing the battle ahead insisting that we fear no one.
We’re looking forward to it, the result last weekend gives us a massive boost and a lot of confidence going in to it.
We’re away from home, but we don’t fear anyone, despite having full respect for them.
This will be a close game, but has all of the ingredients to be full of action.
Despite not having won at St Andrews since we’ve been in The Championship, Villa should and must go there full of belief and confidence.
It’s simply essential we look to build some momentum by picking up three points on Sunday. Arguably it has to be less about local ‘bragging rights’ and more about the ‘bigger picture’.
Birmingham 1 Villa 3 – With Tammy Abraham scoring two and Jack Grealish giving Blues fans nightmares with the other.
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