Battle Of Birmingham!
Villa are looking to do the double over local rivals Birmingham City and following a diabolical season for the Lions, the team owe us this win! A loss would no doubt speed up the exit of under pressure David O'Leary but that can wait for another day, this Sunday is all about beating Small Heath. Thanks Doug, you've taken us down to your level now, just a local Midlands derby to 'excite' us. A win would all but guarantee our safety this season, a win for Small Heath could see them get enough to stay up. Perish the thought!
David O'Leary said 'On Sunday, you're either a hero or a villain. That's what the derby games are about. I've won drawn and lost these games and I know how much this game means to fans. We all know what we want. We all want Villa fans going home delighted and able to go into work the following day proud. I want to drive home knowing we've made them happy. Nobody has said to me that this game, win or lose, has any bearing on my future. I don't see it changing things one way or the other. People can slant it like that, but I'm not going to be judged on 90 minutes. It's an important game, not for me and my future, but for the club.'
Aston Villa Team News:
James Milner could be in line for a recall having recovered from a virus. David O'Leary said: 'Could James (Milner) start? Yes. We'll see how he is this week and then make a decision. But he's been absolutely flying in training and he'll be a fantastic boost for us.'James Milner is poised to return for Aston Villa after a five-week absence with a virus for Sunday's Premiership derby at home to Birmingham.' Lee Hendrie is out with a foot injury, Gareth Barry has declared himself fit and although Olof Mellberg is said to be touch and go with a hamstring injury, he'll play! Villa (from): Sorensen, Hughes, Mellberg, Cahill, Ridgewell, Milner, Davis, McCann, Barry, Agbonlahor, Phillips, Baros, Moore, Jumper Jumper, Angel, Hendrie, Taylor, Gardner, De la Cruz, Whittingham.
Player to watch: Thomas Sorenson
NO MORE LOCAL DERBY ERRORS PLEASE.
Small Heath Team News:
Nicky Butt could return but Matthew Upson is unlikely to earn an immediate return. (from): Maik Taylor, Tebily, Cunningham, Martin Taylor, Upson, Sadler, Pennant, Izzet, Jarosik, Johnson, Heskey, Sutton, Butt, Dunn, Forssell, Campbell, Melchiot, Vaesen.
Player to watch: A.Mule Heskey
Take your scorecards with you and judge his diving ability, he usually ranks in the high 9's.
Match Facts & Stats
Birmingham City boss Steve Bruce says that Small Heath have the momentum.
Bruce said: 'Sutton came here from Celtic in January and we won two and drew one out of four games before he unfortunately got injured. He is a big-game player for us and he caused Wigan all sorts of problems with his sheer presence last weekend. When we are in the situation we find ourselves in, you need people like that on your side and we hope after getting a good hour out of him that he will stay fit for the remainder of the season.'
Adding: 'We are definitely on the front foot going into the derby. It is going to be a huge game. It has got a bit more spice added to it because of where the teams are in the league. But at the right time it looks like we've got a bit of momentum going. We had a very good week with five points from three games and only one goal conceded. It was a terrific response from everyone and let's hope we can keep that momentum going against Villa.'
So do the Blues have the edge? Not according to the stats they don't. It will all come down to who has the most bottle and battle on Sunday, something that Villa haven't shown a great deal of this season, so hopefully the 'manager' will have left them in no doubt that THEY OWE THE FANS THIS ONE.
Blues top Prem scorers: A-Mule Heskey 4 goals. Dunn, Forssell, Pennant and Butt have just 2 each.
Villa top Prem scorers: Luke Moore 8, Milan Baros 6, Steven Davis and Kevin Phillips have 4 each, Liam Ridgewell has 3 and Juan Pablo Angel has 2.
Both teams are fairly evenly matched with home and away form. Villa are 18th in the home form league with just 4 wins, 6 draws, 6 losses. Blues away form league sees them 17th with just 2 wins, 4 draws, 10 losses.
Current form sees Blues 14th and Villa 15th.
Last six games for Villa: W L L D L D
Last six games for Blues: D L L D W D
Villa haven't won in six games in all competitions (5 in the Prem) and look to end the season as they started, badly.
In total Villa have won 8, drawn 12 and lost 13 with a goal difference of -12.
In total Blues have won 7, drawn 8 and lost 18 with a goal difference of -20.
This season: Small Heath 0-1 Villa (Phillips)
Last season: Aston Villa 1-2 Small Heath (Barry) (Morrison and Dunn)
Head to heads at Villa Park in all league games:
Villa 23 wins, Birmingham 14 win, Draws 14
Graham Poll, 25 matches, 4 reds, 88 yellows.
What do you expect Mystic Mug to say? We are playing in a local derby, he can't say anything but a Villa win. Mind you, a poll recently on Vital Villa had 75% of fans saying we won't win if we play like we did v WBA. Still, with a few senior players back, we'll do it! 2-0. Gulp :(