It’s that time again. Aston Villa will be looking to continue their promotion push against a struggling Birmingham City side this Sunday. Here’s five reasons why Villa have got this game in the bag.
We all know that Villa have been smashing it this year.
Six league wins in a row has meant Steve Bruce has been nominated for Championship manager of the month, and it’s hard to argue why he shouldn’t get the accolade.
It’s not like Villa have had an “easy” run of fixtures either, Bristol, Sheffield United and Middlesbrough are all in the top nine.
Birmingham City may have picked up their league form too, but a run of two wins in a row against relegation battlers Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday was halted by a tiring loss in an FA Cup replay to Huddersfield on Tuesday.
2. Recent history
History will weigh heavy on the away side.
Villa are undefeated in their last five games against the Blues, and even more impressively, the Pride haven’t lost a home game to their rivals since 2004.
Included in those victories against the Blues are 5-1 thrashings, acrobatic screamers and a lot of Gabriel Agbonlahor goals, which brings me onto my next point.
3. Local lads
As cliché as it sounds, this is a massive bonus that Villa have.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Jack Grealish and Andre Green are all big Villa fans.
Meanwhile, the Blues have Craig Gardner, who has claimed on different occasions that he’s was childhood fan of both teams (funnily enough, this has been while he’s been playing for the team in question).
As much as we would love it to happen, Gabby is hardly match fit and I would be astounded if he manages to get the winner again.
However, Jack Grealish has been on fine form recently and I get the feeling Sunday might be his coming of age moment. Time for a new hero?
4. Scott Hogan
Talking of potential match-winners, or at least scorers, Scott Hogan has been on fire since 2017 turned into 2018.
The former Brentford frontman has got five goals in his last five league games, and thus has been nominated for Championship player of the month.
Hogan has a knack of being on the periphery of the game before grabbing a goal out of nowhere, as illustrated by the few touches he tends to have each game.
Birmingham defenders have a reason to be scared.
5. Villa Park
The Villains have the second-best home record in the league this season, having only lost once at Villa Park.
On the other hand, Birmingham City have only won twice away all campaign, wins against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.
Not to mention Villa Park will be bouncing as well after an excellent January.
Rain, wind or shine, it will be an intimidating atmosphere for our neighbours from Small Heath.