By 90Min
October 28, 2017

The first Birmingham derby of the season takes place this weekend, with both the Blues and the Villans desperate to gain all three points.

 

The fixtures is normally a feisty affair, and Sunday is expected to be no different. In fact, the latest instalment promises to be even more intense, as Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce returns to face his former side.


Villa fans will also not have forgotten Craig Gardner's derogatory remarks made at the end of last season, regarding the club's supporters.


Form

Birmingham (LDWLWL)

Millwall v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship

The Blues have enjoyed something of an upturn in results in recent weeks, after enduring a sluggish start to the campaign.


Birmingham have won two of their last five since Harry Redknapp left the club in mid-September.

Encouragingly for Steve Cotterill's men, Birmingham have won each of their last two games at St Andrews', including an impressive win against Cardiff two weeks ago.

 

Aston Villa (WWWWLW)

 

Villa's only slip up in the past few weeks has come against league leaders Wolves.

 

Steve Bruce's settled side have been very impressive since mid-September, and have won five of their previous six. The Villans have also lost just once in their last ten Championship games.


Recent Derby History

Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

The two sides have met 18 times since the turn of the century, with Villa winning eight, Birmingham five and five draws being shared between the clubs.

However, the Blues have not beaten their rivals in a league fixture since the 2004/05 season. The Claret and Blues have won seven of the past 10 encounters, yet have drawn the last two meetings at St Andrews'.


Classic Encounter - Aston Villa 5-1 Birmingham (20 April 2008)

 

Martin O'Neill's Villa side put Birmingham to the sword late in the 2008/09 campaign.

On the day, both Ashley Young and John Carew grabbed a brace, whilst Gabby Agbonlahor bagged his customary goal against Birmingham.

IAN KINGTON/GettyImages

The game ultimately proved to be vital for Alex McLeish's men, who were relegated just weeks later.


Team News

 

Steve Cotterill has the option of recalling club-record signing Jota to the starting line-up. The Spaniard returned last week in Birmingham's 2-0 defeat to Millwall, having recovered from a hamstring injury.


Cotterill may opt for a slightly sterner and more robust side, than the one selected for last week's trip to The Den. David Stockdale, Carl Jenkinson and Emilio Nsue all remained side-lined for Sunday's clash.

Harry Trump/GettyImages

Meanwhile for Villa, Gabby Agbonlahor looks unlikely to feature in the clash he knows all too well. The striker has been side-lined for several weeks, but appears to have been unable to overcome his calf strain in time.


Henri Lansbury, Jack Grealish and Mile Jedinak are all back in first team training, but will most probably not making the starting XI for such a crucial game. Neil Taylor is still suspended following his red card against Bolton at the end of September.

 

Steve Bruce's biggest dilemma is whether to recall Kienan Davis to the starting line-up, or select Josh Onomah who produced an outstanding display last week against Fulham.

Gareth Copley/GettyImages

Potential Birmingham Starting Line-Up: Kuszack, Colin, Morrison, Roberts, Grounds, Davis, Gardner, Ndoye, Adams, Vassell, Moghoma

 

Potential Aston Villa Starting Line-Up: Johnstone, Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Hutton, Snodgrass, Whelan, Hourihane, Adomah, Onomah, Kodjia


Key Battle


Isaac Vassell v John Terry


Vassell has been in great form in recent weeks and his pace could harm the Villa back-line and while Terry is undoubtedly still a quality defender, he lacks the speed he once had in his youth.


The former Chelsea skipper's ability to deal with Vassell's lightning speed could prove crucial on Sunday.

Prediction

 

Villa are on superb form at the moment, and given their recent success in Second City Derbies it is hard to look past Steve Bruce's side. However, Birmingham have rallied in recent weeks, and should the home fans get behind their players, Villa will face a daunting task.


Birmingham 0-2 Aston Villa 

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