A FIRST West Midlands derby of the season awaits Albion, with Villa paying a visit to The Hawthorns in the week's Monday night clash (ko 8pm), and here the guys from football statistics website WhoScored.com
preview the game.
For a number of years, Villa were the more successful of the two sides, but times have changed dramatically over the last few campaigns.
Last season, for example, the Baggies ran out eight points and seven places ahead of the Villains in the Barclays Premier League table, following on from finishing nine points above them in the 2011/12 campaign.
What is more, not since 2010, six meetings ago, have Villa beaten the Baggies, and not since 2008 have they won at The Hawthorns.
Albion return to action after the international break having picked up a mightily impressive draw - that was so nearly a win - at Stamford Bridge last time out.
Only a last-minute penalty denied Steve Clarke's side a memorable victory to add to the win at Old Trafford earlier this season.
Nonetheless, the manner of the result gives good reason for a great deal of optimism ahead of the derby.
It was the first time this season Chelsea have failed to win at home in the league and the visitors in fact deserved to take three points from the game.
Steve Clarke has built a team capable of controlling games against the so-called 'lesser' teams, but also able to soak up pressure - with a consistent back-four and Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob screening - and hit the 'bigger' teams on the break.
This is reflected in the Baggies having only 32 per cent possession at the Bridge but twice scoring on the break; meanwhile, at home to Villa last season, Clarke's men had a 57 per cent share of the ball and peppered the opposition goal with a colossal 29 shots.
Expect a similar story come Monday; in away games this season Villa have averaged just 44 per cent of the ball, and given their disappointing record against Albion in recent years, they are likely to come into this clash wary of the home side's threat.
The last three meetings between the teams have been drawn, and the two prior to those resulted in Baggies wins.
Other than the obvious unbeaten streak, a noteworthy trait of the Baggies' recent games against Villa has been devastating second-half performances, with seven of Albion's eight goals in the last six meetings coming after half-time.
They have therefore rescued an impressive eight points from losing positions in those matches, after only once scoring the first goal.
Having netted first in each of their last three home Premier League games, Albion will be hoping to put an end to their run of conceding first against Villa, but even if that streak is extended, they should still be confident of adding another important three points to their already impressive tally.
* WhoScored.comis a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. Follow @WhoScoredand their editor-in-chief
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All-time results record (League, FA Cup and League Cup)
The Baggies' five-game unbeaten run in West Midlands derbies with the Villains is the club's best record against their closest rivals since 1966.
The two teams met on the same day (November 25) in 1978 - with Albion's Tony Brown and Villa's Allan Evans both on the scoresheet in a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns.
Albion against Villa is the oldest West Midlands derby, with the Baggies meeting the Claret and Blues for the first time in the FA Cup on Saturday, January 3, 1885 - almost 129 years ago.
It is also the most-played West Midlands derby in the top flight, with 132 fixtures between the two clubs. Villa against Wolves is the second-most played derby with 104 meetings, while the Villains have met Blues on 102 occasions, and the Baggies have taken on Wolves 100 times.
Villa have won five, drawn three and lost only two of their last nine Barclays Premier League away games.
Last time out
HOME: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, January 19, 2013, Albion 2 (Brunt 49, Odemwingie 84) Villa 2 (Benteke 12, Agbonlahor 31)
AWAY: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, September 30, 2012, Villa 1 (Bent 80) Albion 1 (Long 51)
Form guide (last six league matches)
Last league match line-ups
ALBION (v Chelsea - away D 2-2): Myhill; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Yacob, Mulumbu; Amalfitano (Popov 88), Sessegnon (Morrison 81), Brunt; Long (Anichebe 79). Subs not used: L Daniels (gk), Dawson, Berahino, Vydra.
VILLA (v Cardiff – home W 2-0): Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Clark; El Ahmadi (Lowton 74), Westwood, Sylla, Tonev; Kozak (Bowery 88), Benteke. Subs not used: Steer (gk), Helenius, Herd, Johnson, Robinson.
Villa team news
Paul Lambert is optimistic about the fitness of strike duo Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann.
Benteke trained with his team-mates despite injuring his knee on international duty with Belgium.
Weimann was also able to join in with the rest of the squad this week after a hamstring problem ruled him out of their victory over Cardiff a fortnight ago.
And Ciaran Clark (foot), Antonio Luna (hamstring) and Fabian Delph (knee)are also back in contention.
Brad Guzan is fine despite hurting his ankle in the Cardiff game.
Lambert will also assess the fitness of Gabby Agbonlahor as the striker continues his recovery from an ankle problem.
Michael Oliver referees Monday’s game. The Northumberland official oversaw the Baggies' 2-1 victory at Manchester United in September. Oliver has dished out 39 yellow and no red cards in ten matches so far this season.
Selected odds from SkyBet:
Albion to win: Evens
Villa to win: 11/4
Shane Long to score the first goal: 13/2
Libor Kozak to score the first goal: 8/1
If you fancy a flutter with the club's official online betting partner, click here.
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