Birmingham v Aston Villa – St. Andrew’s at 12:00 live on Sky Sports 2
It’s Halloween weekend and what better way to celebrate that with a Second City derby between Birmingham and Aston Villa, as a familiar face returns to St. Andrew’s is my latest Asian Handicap betting preview.
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Birmingham City fans are happy, I would say, at the moment considering they sit seventh in the Championship and outside the play-off places on goal difference. However, recent form contradicts that baring in mind that they have only won two of their last five matches.
Gary Rowett’s last game finishing in a 2-0 defeat away to Burton Albion.
When it comes to home form, something has changed at St. Andrew’s as Rowett’s men sit unbeaten in their last five matches considering they went eight games without a win. Yet, away form is definitely something that needs improving.
One player who has always been about in the Championship and remains a threat is striker Clayton Donaldson. The 32-year-old netted 11 goals in the league last year and is on four so far this campaign. Furthermore, with on-loan striker Lukas Jutkiewicz alongside him, this is a powerful duo who can definitely leave their mark on defenders.
Only one suspension as Johnathan Grounds is out for the derby. In addition, it would be good to see how Rowlett sets-up as he has shifted formations in recent weeks between a flat 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1. So let’s see what happens against the Villains.
Their rivals, meanwhile, have a familiar face at the helm in Steve Bruce, as the English manager took over from Roberto Di Matteo and now has a mission on his hand to gain promotion for the former Premier League club.
Bruce’s last match ended in a 1-0 win at home against Fulham; Johnathan Kodija scoring the only goal and extending their unbeaten record to three games.
One player I was looking forward to seeing in this game was Jack Grealish, a local lad who would have thrived under the atmosphere. However, he is suspended for the derby and you look around and wonder how many Midland’s lads will be featuring apart from Nathan Baker. It doesn’t look good, but I’m expecting Bruce to drill in the importance of this match.
Another concern is Villa’s away form. Only one win on the road this season is not impressive, as well as only scoring four goals in their last five matches says something needs to change. But, that’s the thing, with signings Kodija, Ross McCormack and Jordan Ayew they should be leaking goals.
One thing to take into account is that Bruce has not played the same formation in all three games. Though it seems the 4-5-1 (moving into a 4-3-3) could be most effective with the players at his disposal.
The last time these two sides met, Aston Villa won 1-0 at Villa Park. Yet, the last meeting at St. Andrew’s, back in 2011, finished in a 1-1 draw. In fact, Aston Villa has only won on three occasions after eight visits across the city, and there has never been more than three goals scored in a game.
Expecting a gruelling encounter and one that should definitely be watched. Birmingham head into this game with a great run of form at home, but then again Villa are unbeaten under the returning Bruce. I want to back a team, but I’ll probably stick with overs here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.25 goals @ 1.91 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.