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Oct 29, 2017 at 12pm UK at St Andrew's
Attendance: 24,408
BirminghamBirmingham City
Aston Villa

Preview: Birmingham City vs. Aston Villa

Sports Mole previews the second-city derby between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrew's.

Birmingham City head into the second-city derby with Aston Villa looking for the victory which will ensure that they remain outside of the relegation zone in the Championship table.

Villa make the short trip to St Andrew's having won five of their last six fixtures in the league, and manager Steve Bruce will know that another three points will keep the pressure on the top three in the standings.

Birmingham City

Brum boss Steve Cotterill watches on during the Championship game between Birmingham City and Cardiff City on October 13, 2017© Offside

Steve Cotterill has only been in charge of Birmingham for two games and the 53-year-old has already started to experience a similar level of frustration as their supporters have since the departure of Gary Rowett.

The 1-0 victory over promotion-chasing Cardiff City would have filled Cotterill with enough confidence to think that his new side could return from The Den with at least a point, but the club's woes on their travels continued after another below-par display against Millwall

Chances were being created by Birmingham but not enough were clear-cut, and Millwall were effectively able to cruise to a 2-0 win, condemning their opponents to a sixth away defeat in seven matches.

Supporters may argue that their cause was not helped by the likes of Jeremie Boga and Jota starting the game on the substitutes' bench, but their continued lack of a cutting edge at the front is leading to games passing the team by.

Sam Gallagher - on loan from Southampton - has been disappointing, while Lukas Jutkiewicz and Isaac Vassell have been in and out of the side and are struggling to find any consistency in the final third.

Cotterill will hope that renewing acquaintances with Villa will inspire his team to put in another inspired showing at St Andrew's, with Birmingham beating both Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff at their home ground in the past month.

Recent form: LDWLWL

Aston Villa

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce smiles before his side's pre-season clash with Shrewsbury Town on July 15, 2017© Offside

At the end of August, some Villa supporters were calling for the club's hierarchy to make a change in the dugout with Villa winning just one of their opening five matches, but Steve Bruce has finally started to win over the bulk of the club's fans.

Five victories and three draws have come from nine matches, with the only defeat coming away at leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Villa now appear to be in a position to launch a bid for promotion back to the top flight.

The West Midlands outfit still have improvements to make in attack, with none of the club's recognised centre-forwards netting more than twice in the Championship, but the flip side to that is that goals are coming from all over the pitch.

After a mixed first campaign, Albert Adomah is beginning to show the form which tempted Villa to sign the winger from Middlesbrough in August 2016, and the 29-year-old is currently on a run of five goals from six matches.

At the back, John Terry and James Chester continue to form an effective partnership, while Terry finally chipped in with his first Villa goal in last weekend's 2-1 triumph over Fulham.

Villa follow this short trip with a match at promotion rivals Preston North End in midweek but if Bruce can guide his players to four or more points from their next two fixtures, three home matches in November - against Sheffield Wednesday, Queens Park Rangers and Ipswich Town respectively - give the club an opportunity to really increase the pressure on the teams around them in the standings.

Recent form: WWWWLW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWLW

Team News

Jack Grealish in action for Aston Villa on July 30, 2016© SilverHub

Bruce has revealed that Jack Grealish, Mile Jedinak and Henri Lansbury could all feature in the squad on Sunday after returning to training following their respective injuries.

However, Gabriel Agbonlahor is unlikely to play against his hometown club's arch rivals after picking up a calf problem, while Neil Taylor sits out the final game of a three-match suspension.

Cotterill has said that Birmingham have sustained no new injury issues from last weekend's setback against Millwall.

However, Jota may be recalled to the team, while either Jutkiewicz or Gallagher could be handed a start to pose a greater physical threat to Chester and Terry.

Birmingham City possible starting lineup:
Kuszczak; Colin, Morrison, Roberts, Grounds; Davis, Kieftenbeld, Ndoye, Adams, Jota; Jutkiewicz

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Hutton, Whelan, Hourihane; Snodgrass, Onomah, Adomah; Kodjia

Head To Head

Saturday's contest will represent the 125th time in which these two teams have faced each other in a competitive match, with Villa recording 54 wins in comparison to 38 victories for Birmingham.

However, over the past decade, it has been Villa who have largely dominated this fixture, with six wins and three draws being registered from 10 games.

You have to go all the way back to March 2005 for the last time that Birmingham beat Villa in a league encounter, with goals from Emile Heskey and Julian Gray earning their team a 2-0 triumph at St Andrew's.

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We say: Birmingham City 1-2 Aston Villa

Birmingham have shown that they are capable of beating the big clubs in front of their own supporters, but the Blues may find it a step too far against their arch rivals, who are clicking into gear at an important stage of the season. We expect it to be a tight contest, but Villa should ultimately have too much quality.

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