Aston Villa vs Birmingham City: EFL match preview, team news and predicted line-ups for talkSPORT 2 commentary

Aston Villa vs Birmingham City: EFL match preview, team news and predicted line-ups for talkSPORT 2 commentary
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Robert Jones has been appointed to oversee the 127th Second City derby, as Aston Villa host local rivals Birmingham City at Villa Park.

The bitter opponents head into the affair tied on 24 points, with Villa ahead thanks to a superior goal difference.

Birmingham are fretting over the fitness of Congo international Jacques Maghoma and Spanish winger Jota ahead of Sundays derby. The pair have resumed full training and are expected to feature but whether Monk trusts the duo from the start remains to be seen. Long-term absentees David Davis and Isaac Vassell are still unavailable.

Dean Smiths side have outscored the Blue half of the city by four goals – netting the fifth highest total in the Championship – but a habit of conceding leaves the Villans just a single goal better off.

The stalemate – the Blues ninth drawn match of the season thus far – extended Birminghams unbeaten run at St Andrews to 14 matches but Monk preferred to focus his ire on a defence thats now conceded six goals across their most recent two second-half efforts. The City boss bemoaned simple and elementary errors.

Victory for either side will move the respective club towards the Play-Off positions, whereas defeat will leave the relegation zone a daunting prospect.

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Hudson-Odoi will be allowed to leave the club, and as a result it has alerted a host of Midland clubs. Derby County and West Brom are also looking at possible attacking options in January, and they could take an interest in signing him.

Throughout the opening 17 fixtures, both Birmingham-based clubs have become familiar to the referee’s attention, with Garry Monks men carded 27 times to the Villans’ 25.

After a slow start, the Steelers have found their form, and with Ben Roethlisberger getting the best out of his offensive weapons, its hard to see the Broncos holding out, particularly with injury worries over key defensive personnel. Back the Steelers to pick up another win and cement their position at the top of the AFC North.

Sundays affair will be Jones first in charge of a Second City derby, and he is yet to officiate a Birmingham fixture. The biggest match he has presided over was QPRs 2-0 win over London rivals Millwall in September – he has never officiated in the Premier League.

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“(Manager) Garry (Monk) got across what he wanted from us and everyone grabbed hold of it because we know what we can be if we do it right. He’s the best manager – and it’s the best staff – I’ve worked with. It’s a siege mentality.”

Posted in Birmingham