ASTON VILLA boss Steve Bruce will likely be relishing the prospect of returning to former membership Birmingham Metropolis to pile extra distress on Villa’s rivals in Sunday’s Second Metropolis derby.
Bruce twice took the Blues to the Premier League earlier than quitting for Wigan Athletic in 2007.
The previous Manchester United defender crossed the divide in October final 12 months, although, when he succeeded Roberto di Matteo at Villa Park.
It’s been gradual progress ever since however, in contrast to Birmingham, Villa have a minimum of been going forwards within the final 12 months and are within the playoffs in fifth.
Birmingham have been seventh within the Championship when Gary Rowett was sacked by the membership’s controversial house owners in December. Steve Cotterill is their third supervisor since then.
Gianfranco Zola took Birmingham dangerously near the relegation zone earlier than resigning in April to make means for former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp.
He saved the membership up however was sacked in mid-September following a poor begin to the marketing campaign.
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With Birmingham simply above the drop zone, Sunday’s sport has a lot using on it. Our buddies at Soccer Whispers preview the match…
Key battle: Maikel Kieftenbeld v Conor Hourihane
Irish midfielder Hourihane joined the Villans from Barnsley in January and has rapidly turn out to be probably the most vital gamers in Bruce’s squad.
The 26-year-old, who got here to England when he joined countryman Roy Keane at Sunderland, has been a revelation this season, scoring 5 and supplying one other help.
His effective kind since shifting to Villa Park was recognised internationally in March when he made his Eire debut in a pleasant towards Iceland.
Stopping Hourihane will likely be key to Birmingham’s possibilities of success. Central to reaching that will likely be Dutch midfielder Kieftenbeld.
The 27-year-old, who joined the Blues from FC Groningen in 2015, ought to begin on the base of midfield with one in every of David Davis or Craig Gardner – beforehand of Villa.
Kieftenbeld has averaged 1.eight tackles per sport this season – second solely to Gardner of Blues’ midfielders – and makes 1.Four interceptions, which is greater than any Birmingham midfielder.
Potential match winners: Che Adams and Jonathan Kodjia
Three years in the past Birmingham Metropolis attacker Adams was plying his commerce for Ilkeston City within the Northern Premier League – the seventh tier of English soccer.
However in November 2014, then Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough signed Adams on a two-year deal for a reported six-figure payment.
Adams repaid his supervisor’s religion and rapidly took to league soccer, scoring 12 instances in 41 outings through the 2015/16 marketing campaign to earn a £2m change to Birmingham final summer season.
This season Adams has bagged 4 from seven appearances in all competitions in a struggling facet and will likely be pivotal to unpicking Villa’s defence on Sunday.
There was no scrabbling within the decrease leagues for gems for Aston Villa, nonetheless. The Villans went huge in backing di Matteo and Bruce final time period with combined outcomes.
One resounding success was the £15m seize of Kodjia from Bristol Metropolis. The Ivorian scored 35 objectives in two seasons at Ashton Gate and carried that kind with him to the Midlands, bagging 19 in his first season with Villa.
Blues boss Cotterill, who was Redknapp’s assistant final season earlier than leaving over the summer season, goes into simply his third sport on the helm.
The previous Bristol Metropolis, Portsmouth and Nottingham Forest supervisor has set his facet up in a Four-2-Three-1 system to this point with three attacking midfielders supporting Isaac Vassell – cousin of former England and Villains star Darius – because the lone striker.
Villa, in the meantime, arrange in a flat Four-Four-1-1 with Tottenham loanee Josh Onomah in help of the striker – both Kodjia or Scott Hogan.
On the flanks, Robert Snodgrass and Albert Adomah get extensive and stretch the play with Glenn Whelan holding the fort in midfield.
After profitable his first sport in cost 1-Zero towards Cardiff Metropolis, Cotterill was introduced again right down to earth with a 2-Zero loss at Millwall in his second match and will ring the modifications.
Chelsea loanee Jeremie Boga was benched for that tie together with former Brentford playmaker Jota who’s making his means again from damage. The duo may return to the facet instead of Cheikh Ndoye and Jacques Maghoma.
After beating Fulham 2-1 final weekend there may be little cause for Bruce to meddle with a profitable XI.
Left-back Neil Taylor is suspended so Alan Hutton ought to proceed there. Henri Lansbury (knee) and Gabby Agbonlahor (calf) will miss out.
Jack Grealish and Mile Jedinak have each returned to coaching however the sport ought to come too quickly for the pair.
Aston Villa relish enjoying their native rivals. Within the final 12 conferences between the 2 sides the Villans are unbeaten in 11 with the solitary Blues win coming in a 2010 League Cup assembly at St Andrew’s.
The final time Birmingham received a league encounter was within the Premier League in March 2005. Bruce was in cost then and oversaw a 2-Zero success with objectives from Emile Heskey and Julian Grey.
What would possibly give the hosts trigger for optimism is the absence of long-serving Villa ahead Agbonlahor. In 10 video games towards Blues he has scored 5 instances and misplaced simply as soon as.