THE FORM GUIDE
Throw it out the window for this one. Birmingham’s timely change of manager could be the catalyst for a late season flourish, while back-to-back defeats for Villa have hoovered up any recent positivity.
The Blues haven’t won since February, but it’s a derby so anything could happen. Their last victory? A2-1 away win to midland rivals Wolves.
The Blues haven’t scored more than one in a game since that win at Wolves, despite Zola’s creative mentality. As Birmingham fan Gabriel Sutton noted when speaking to The Villa View presenter Dan Bardell last week, Zola’s influence caused a crumbling of the defence, which had been fundamental in positive results, earlier in the season.
NEW MANAGER BOUNCE
It was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’, and after just four months Birmingham parted company with manager Gianfranco Zola, following a disappointing 1-1 draw with Rotherham last weekend. Having only won twice in his time at the club, Zola took the team from competing for play-off places (albeit in October), to fighting for Championship survival. For that we salute you, Gianfranco.
However, in strides a proven commodity and, whether you like him or not, Harry Redknapp has pedigree. With just three games remaining, expect a rejuvenated effort as ‘Arry fires a couple of much-needed rockets into the Blues’ changing room.
After tangling with Ryan Fredericks on Monday afternoon, Jonathan Kodjia received his marching orders and began his summer holidays three games before the rest of the squad.
Though the offence seemed more worthy of a yellow card than red (a view also shared by former official Mark Halsey), Villa must now play the year’s cup final without their talismanic striker.
Opportunity for Scott Hogan to lead the line out of the shadow of Kodjia, and perhaps an extended run for Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, who looked lively against Fulham. Gabby Agbonlahor is sure to give all he can against the Blues if called upon, but it promises to be a much tougher prospect without Kodjia’s creativity.
LAST TIME OUT
Birmingham were arguably the better side, and could have come away with all three points. Clayton Donaldson should have done better with a number of chances, but Gary Gardner’s header was enough to ensure Villa left St. Andrews with a point.
— The Villa View (@TheVillaView_) 22 April 2017
ONE TO WATCH
At just 20 years old, Che Adams has shown versatility, strength and flair, and has been a positive in a largely disappointing campaign for Birmingham. Having signed in the summer, Adams has bagged six goals this year, including two this month already, and will aim to be a handful on Sunday.
Enjoying a creative role off front man Donaldson, it is imperative that Villa keep Adams under wraps.
Matt Lynch says “I think that it’ll be a tough game for so many reasons from it being simply a derby to how close Birmingham City now sit to the drop zone. Despite that I think that Bruce knows this game more than most and on current form despite our last two games I cannot see past an Aston Villa win. We have players with a point to prove and some players who can grab the game by the scruff of the neck to give Villa the win.”