Villa perspective: David Grimble, Up The Villa.
Trying to predict a Paul Lambert team is a pretty hard task, because as we’ve seen with the dropping of Given for Guzan, our new manager isn’t afraid of making the big decisions. That said, we're close to a full strength squad, with only Stephen Ireland looking like he’ll miss out through injury. We finally have real competition for places after Lambert bought well in the summer, and I’d expect a few changes from our great result against Man City in the cup.
It’s never straightforward supporting the Villa, as we have a knack for being maddingly inconsistent. A poor start to the season was followed with two good results against Newcastle and Swansea, meaning fans went into the Southampton game with real hope. Naturally we got tonked and ended up losing 4-1 before going on to beat the league champions 4-2 on their own patch. I hope we don’t see a repeat of last season, when we beat Chelsea away 3-1 before losing to Swansea at home a few days later. All we’re asking for is two wins in a row!
West Brom finished ahead of us for the first time in years last season, and the Baggies faithful haven’t been shy in letting us know. The home game last season was a controversial affair. Things started swimmingly after an early Darren Bent penalty put us 1-0 up, but Chris Herd was then sent off (almost a year later and I’m still not sure why) and West Brom went on to win 2-1. The away game was a much cagier affair, finishing 0-0, with a last minute wonder save from Shay Given essentially keeping us in the division. Villa fans are desperate for the three points this weekend.
Karim El Ahmadi to score at 9.75. Already he’s looking like one of the buys of the season. The midfielder has real quality and has already scored once at Villa Park this season. He's more than capable of grabbing another at a great price.
Christian Benteke to score the first goal at 8.00. The young Belgian international is already a bit of a cult hero, and scored on his Villa Park debut against Swansea. He’s looked dangerous in every match since, and offers a real threat in the air.
Aston Villa to score from a penalty at 7.00. We saw two penalties awarded in the corresponding fixture last season, and they’ll be no love lost in this game. The 7.00 on offer looks a top price in what should be a passionate and full-blooded affair.
Aston Villa 2 – 1 West Brom (10.00)
West Brom perspective: Craig Punfield, Baggies Blog.
West Brom boss Steve Clarke faces a selection headache over both full-back positions this weekend. Steven Reid has been ruled out of the derby match against Aston Villa with a hamstring injury, whil Liam Ridgewell faces a race against time to face his former club due to a calf injury sustained during the midweek loss in the League Cup. On the plus side, influential midfielder James Morrison will return for Albion after missing the match against Liverpool due to injury.
With the best start to a Premier League campaign in our history, it’s pretty safe to say that Albion are currently in good form. Getting back to winning ways will be important this weekend, however, due to the disappointing defeat on Wednesday. Strikers Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku have both made strong starts to the season, scoring five between them in all competitions.
Historically it’s Villa who taste success in these encounters, but recent form is on the Baggies’ side; we won at Villa Park last season and drew at The Hawthorns.
Both teams to score at 1.62. Expect the attacking riches on display to trump the defences.
Romelu Lukaku to score first at 8.00. The big striker has been looking sharp and could trouble Villa's less-than-solid defence.
Red card given at 4.25. With so many pacy players in attack for both sides, a burly defender (Rod Vlaar or Jonas Olsson spring to mind) could be in for a torrid afternoon.
Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom (10.00)