The Midlands derby is always a sought-after game and this one on Sunday will be no different.
The Aston Villa fans would have been hoping to be much higher in the table at this stage than they are now at the start of the season. However, after the sacking of Steve Bruce, they are rebuilding their side under Dean Smith and will be looking to make a push for the playoffs or even for automatic promotion come the end of the season.
Their form of late has been indifferent but they do head into this game with back to back wins under their belt. Wins against Derby County and Bolton Wanderers have sparked excitement back at Villa Park that they may once again be in the Premier League.
Normally the plaudits would go to the exciting Jack Grealish but the key man at the moment for Villa is Mile Jedinak. He is dominant in the air for the Villains and that could be vital against the tall Lukas Jutkiewicz. He doesn’t dive into challenges and waits for the perfect opportunity to put in the tackle and play the ball out of defence with ease. He will also be a danger when taking set pieces.
Up until their last game before the international break, The Blues were on an eleven game unbeaten streak in the league. Their form has been very good since they lost to Middlesbrough in August and they go into the game with a lot of confidence.
Manager Garry Monk has certainly got his side to be a real threat in the league after several seasons of struggle. They are physically a much stronger side who can defend in the air well and can attack in the air equally as well. He has them well drilled and primed to attack the playoffs this season.
A lot of the credit will go to the two strikers Che Adams and the ever-reliable Jutkiewicz. These two have 17 league goals between them and are a real thorn in the opposition’s side. If these two get going on Sunday then Villa could be in for some real trouble.
Head to head
This derby dates back to 1887 when Aston Villa won 4-0 over Birmingham or should I say Small Heath Alliance; as they were formerly known. Historically Villa has the upper hand and in recent times this has been the case as well. They have not lost to Birmingham since 2010 when they lost 2-1 in the League Cup.
With both sides separated by a goal on goal difference, it is bound to be a close affair. It is fair to say that both sides have had average seasons so far and they will want to get one over their rival. However, I don’t think either side will. I am predicting a 1-1 draw but this is a derby after all and anything can happen.