West Brom-Aston Villa Preview
Aston Villa will enjoy a double dose of derbies in a space of four days as they seek to recover from a dispiriting defeat.
West Bromwich Albion know that there is no better place for them to generate goals than at Villa Park.
These sides will contest what is expected to be a fierce West Midlands derby on Saturday at Villa Park, where the Baggies were dumped out of the FA Cup in their last visit.
The Villans host the Baggies three days before Birmingham City come calling for a League Cup fixture. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan expects Villa home fans to be at full throat.
"Villa Park will be rocking - and at its best," he told the club's official website. "I've been fortunate to experience games where it has been like that. I'm sure that will be the case come Saturday and Tuesday."
These clubs were founded four years apart, and the tension between supporters was evident in Villa's 2-0 FA Cup home win on Mar. 7 that was marred by violent scenes at Villa Park. Visiting supporters ripped out seats and hurled them onto the pitch while the home fans invaded the surface in a victory celebration.
West Brom boss Tony Pulis called the Villa supporters who came on the pitch "mindless idiots" and referred to the scene as "ridiculous."
"It's disgraceful," Pulis said. "We don't want to see those scenes."
West Brom captain Chris Brunt was charged by the FA for abusing referee Anthony Taylor after the match in which both sides finished with 10 men. The contest came four days after Villa posted a 2-1 Premier League victory over the Baggies, who have won once in their last 10 overall trips to Villa Park.
The two victories over West Brom lifted Tim Sherwood's status as Aston Villa manager. Now he has another crisis on his hands after the Villans threw away a two-goal lead by allowing three in the last 18 minutes of Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Leicester City.
"I've never felt this bad ever," Sherwood said.
Villa have conceded second-half goals to blow a lead or fall behind in their last three fixtures. They have one point in their last four league matches.
"They are a good group but we just have to stop the errors unfortunately, sooner rather than later," Sherwood said.
The Baggies played a scoreless draw Saturday against Southampton, leaving them with three goals to match Watford and Stoke City for the league's second-worst total. Their 14 shots are also tied for second-worst, matching Sunderland.
One positive last weekend was Saido Berahino's appearance as a second-half substitute after he declared that he would never again play for the club when chairman Jeremy Peace blocked a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur.
"We all move on and we need him as you see him when he comes on," Pulis said. "He's a talented boy and he's very, very important for us."
Gabriel Agbonlahor has yet to score this season for Villa. The Birmingham-born Agbonlahor has four goals in 11 career starts against the Baggies.