Baggies can grab Brum bragging rights
Just five days before the sides meet in an FA Cup quarter-final, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion are playing for three vital points in the Premier League.
You could argue that Villa are more in need of a win than their West Midlands rivals. Tim Sherwood is still seeking his first win as Villa manager but even a point would be something of a relief for the Holt End faithful.
Villa have lost their last seven Premier League games and go into this local derby just one place above the relegation places. Contrast that with the improvement that the Baggies have made under Tony Pulis and you can understand why this is such a huge game for the Villains. Recent history is also in Albion’s favour as they’ve only lost one of their last against Villa.
Sherwood desperately needs his strikers to get him and his side out of a hole. His team have managed just three goals in their last 12 Premier League outings with loanee Scott Sinclair the only real contributor over the last few weeks.
Christian Benteke is a shadow of his former self and the same can be said for Gabriel Agbonlahor. Both look in need of some TLC but Sherwood doesn’t really have time for sentiment with games running out and no real sign of improvement since Paul Lambert’s departure.
Typical of a Pulis team, West Brom have tightened up considerably at the back since his arrival. It’s now more than 400 minutes since they last conceded a goal.
Joleon Lescott is showing the kind of form that won him 26 England caps and Sherwood even tried to sign the centre-back while he was head coach at Tottenham. The 32-year-old also has a habit of scoring against Aston Villa and could be overpriced at 10/1 to be an anytime scorer at Villa Park, though it’s Brown Ideye and Saido Berahino who have been doing most of the damage lately.
The latter, however, is a doubt for this local derby having limped out of Saturday’s win over Southampton after scoring what turned out to be the game’s only goal.
Form can go out of the window when local pride is at stake but West Brom have to be the selection at 2/1 given the recent record of the two teams.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Tuesday, March 3 at Villa Park.