Old foes Birmingham City and Aston Villa lock horns on Sunday in a clash that will not only settle local bragging rights, but also have an impact at both ends of the table.
This fixture has historically been fiercely competitive as the Blues enjoyed four victories in six clashes in the early noughties, but Villa have since had the upper-hand with eight wins in the last 12 derbies.
Steve Bruce’s side are 13/10 (2.30) with Paddy Power to continue in that vein, while his old club are 11/5 (3.20) for a third straight home win in the Championship. A draw, which occurred in this fixture last season after David Davis cancelled out Gary Gardner’s header, is also available at 11/5 (3.20).
The fifth-placed Villans haven’t conceded before the interval in any of their last 10 games, whilst Birmingham - who sit in 21st - haven’t done so in five of their last six; therefore, a 0-0 half-time score at 6/4 (2.50) holds appeal as Steve Cotterill has prioritised discipline in his reign to date, often determined for his side not to give anything away early on.
We can expect play to become more stretched in the second half, which is where the away side’s technical proficiency might come to the fore; Villa are 13/8 (2.63) to win the second half, as they have done in three of their last six games
The first half to be a draw but Bruce's men to find the winner is a tempting 9/2 (5.50), while an away win to nil is 11/4 (3.75), odds which imply a likelihood of 27% - 4% lower than past trends suggest.
If the Blues do find the net then Che Adams, who bagged the only goal of Cotterill’s regime to date in the 1-0 win over Cardiff, is a good bet at 11/4 (7.50) to score anytime, with the aforementioned Davis 15/2 (8.50) to get a goal.
Villa's perennial derby goalscorer, Gabriel Agbonlahor - who has five goals in 10 games against Birmingham - is unlikely to be fit, so their biggest threat is Albert Adomah; the winger, 16/5 (4.20) to score anytime, has bagged six goals in his last eight appearances in all forms.
Alternatively, John Terry thrived on Conor Hourihane's fine delivery to score his first goal for his new club last week and, having been linked with the Blues in the summer, is 12/1 (13.0) to strike again.
Blues should have the energy and spirit to compete with Villa in the first half, but after the break we can expect the away side’s quality to tell and, as such, the match to be a even at half-time but the visitors to take the points at 9/2 (5.50) looks a good punt.
|HT draw/FT Villa win 9/2 (5.50) for a 2pt stake with Paddy Power|