December 11, 2014

Despite dwelling at the bottom of the Premier League table and well aware of how poorly recent trips to The Hawthorns have gone, Aston Villa enter the second leg of the West Midlands Derby feeling good about themselves.

That's because the Villans will take a season-high four-match undefeated run over all competitions into Saturday's matchup against West Bromwich Albion, who are looking to do the double against their neighbouring rivals for the first time in league play.

Still nine points from safety, Villa (2-6-14) haven't packed it in as relegation looms closer and even showed some grit during this 2-2-0 stretch. The Villans have yielded two goals during that span and carry some momentum following Tuesday's 2-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers in a third-round FA Cup replay.

Villa recorded their first Premier League win since opening day, 1-0 over Crystal Palace on Jan. 12, and followed by drawing 1-all with co-leader Leicester City last Saturday.

"We know we have to win games now, but (we'll) take the one point," said forward Rudy Gestede, who scored the equaliser against Leicester in the 75th minute.

"It's still OK ... It keeps the momentum going. We have to keep this confidence. It will be tough but we have no choice but to fight."

Gestede and the Villans hope Tuesday's triumph provides an even larger springboard.

"It's easier when you start picking up results," he told the club's official website. "It helps you believe. Now we're doing that so our confidence is getting stronger and stronger."

Whether it's strong enough to snap an 0-3-2 slide at The Hawthorns remains to be seen. The Villans haven't won at the pitch that lies less than four miles from Villa Park since Sept. 21, 2008.

"These derby matches are important games for the fans and for the club," Gestede said. "We know that. I'm sure it will be a good game on Saturday. They are a tough team to beat."

Villa found that out in a 1-0 home loss to West Brom (7-6-9) on Sept. 19. Saido Berahino scored in the 39th minute and Aston Villa managed just three shots on target.

As the Baggies set their sights on an unprecedented season sweep of Aston Villa, they'll be in high spirits after ending an 0-2-1 slide over all competitions with Tuesday's 1-0 victory at Bristol City in the FA Cup.

"We're pleased with the result," manager Tony Pulis told West Brom's official website.

West Brom should feel glad returning home trying for a third consecutive win at The Hawthorns considering they tied Chelsea 2-all in London and lost 3-0 at Southampton last Saturday in their last two league matches.

"We were flat, lacked sparkle," Pulis said of the overall effort against the Saints.

Pulis' side continues to try to fill the void left after learning over the weekend that James Morrison's ailing hamstring could take at least six weeks to heal. Morrison is tied for the overall team lead with four goals.

It also remains to be seen if veteran midfielder Darren Fletcher will be able to play after a knee injury forced him out of the Southampton tilt. He didn't see any action Tuesday.

"We've had two blows," Pulis said.

Berahino, who also has four goals, did not play against Bristol City and reportedly is being courted hard by Newcastle United during this month's transfer window. Over the summer, the team refused repeated offers from Tottenham Hotspur.

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