West Midlands Football Blog
19th August 2016
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Aston Villa

Following the Luton nightmare, the Villa bounced back with a resounding 3-0 win over Rotherham United. A game many had earmarked as a must win for Villa if they were to show intent to fight for promotion, and the Villa passed the test with flying colours thanks to a brace from seasoned Championship striker Rudy Gestede and a goal from local boy Jack Grealish who netted for the first time in front of the Holte End. The game against Huddersfield Town started strongly but similar to the Luton game, Villa failed to capitalise on a 1-0 lead. Ross McCormack’s opener was cancelled out late on after a piece of suspect defending ended up in a fluke goal for Michael Hefele.

In the transfer market, Villa have continued to strengthen, bringing in former Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak, however the Australian international will not be available for the Villans’ trip to Derby County. Last time Villa visited the iPro Stadium, it was still called Pride Park, and under Martin O’Neil Villa utterly embarrassed the Rams with a 6-0 thrashing, which included Stiliyan Petrov’s iconic goal from the halfway line. Joleon Lescott and Adama Traore could be the next Villa players going through the exit door, and though Lescott was rumoured to be going to Rangers, it seems that deal isn’t going to materialise yet, while Adama has indicated he wishes to leave Villa Park.

Coming in to the club could be Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford, a young player who impressed with Middlesbrough in the 2014/15 season, and Tottenham Hotspur’s DeAndre Yedlin. Both would be welcome additions to the Villa line-up.

thebestofBirmingham’s prediction: Derby 2-2 Villa

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Like Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers picked up four points from their past two games. The Black Country giants started their double-header with an enthusiastic 2-0 win over Reading - Matt Doherty opened the scoring as he drove the ball home from a corner. The home side didn’t take long to cement their win as Joe Mason headed in George Saville’s corner. On Tuesday, former Wolves boss Mick McCarthy came to town with his Ipswich Town side, but the Wanderers were unable to replicate their convincing win over Reading and came away with a goalless draw.

In the transfer market, the big rumour is that former AC Milan, Inter Milan and Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli could be trotting out in gold and black this season, but he might not be partnered with Chris Martin after Derby rejected a £5m bid for the Scot. Meanwhile Prince Oniangue became Walter Zenga’s fifth summer signed after joining on a four-year deal from French side Reims.

On Tuesday, Wolves host Cambridge United in the second round of the League Cup The Molineux side will hope to push on and provide a cup run alongside their promotion push. The last time Wolves played Cambridge was in the FA Cup third round win in 2008. The boys in gold & black ran out 2-1 winners with Michael Kightly and Neill Collins providing the goals for Wolves, and Scott Rendell putting away a penalty for Cambridge.

thebestofBirmingham’s prediction: Wolves 2-0 Cambridge

Birmingham City

The Blues also came away from the weekend and midweek fixtures with four points after dousing concerns they can’t score goals, by scoring two of them in a 2-1 win away to Leeds United. It was Jacques Maghoma who gave Blues the lead in the face of Leeds dominance, after just 15 minutes. The home side soon equalised as Hadi Sacko slotted it under Tomasz Kuszcak, but Michael Morrison gave the Blues back their lead just ten minutes into the second half, securing all three points. On Tuesday the Blues failed to retain a 1-0 lead again as Craig Davies equalised late on to nullify David Davis’ opener.

In transfer news, Andrew Shinnie has left St Andrew’s and moved north, joining Scottish side Hibernian on a season-long loan deal. Rumours of new additions are few and far between though.

Blues vs Wolves

This weekend sees this season’s first local derby as Wolves travel to St Andrew’s to face City. Both sides will be gunning for the win and the bragging rights. It looks to be a close one, and neither side has brought in new blood, so expect a tight affair with few goals in it. However there are fears there may be violence after the police drafted in extra officers for the clash so we urge all fans to stay safe. Last season it was Wolves who came away with the spoils after a 2-0 win in front of 18,946 people, thanks to goals from David Edwards and Sheyi Ojo.

thebestofBirmingham’s prediction: Birmingham City 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

West Bromwich Albion

The Baggies got off to a great start last weekend, winning 1-0 away to Crystal Palace. A Salomon Rondón header was enough to secure all three points for the Albion, in a game of few chances.

West Brom remain conservative in the transfer window, but were dealt a blow when Leicester City rejected a third bid for Jeffrey Schlupp. Meanwhile Saido Berahino looks to be plying his trade at the Hawthorns this season, for the time being at least, as does Johnny Evans who is wanted by Arsenal. In his pre-match conference for the home clash with Everton, manager Tony Pulis, has expressed his desire for five signings that will improve the side.

This weekend the Baggies face Everton at home, in a fixture that may prove difficult for the home side. Find out how you can get discounted tickets through thebestofBirmingham here. Following the Everton game, the Baggies will travel to Northampton Town for the second round of the League Cup. The last time West Brom faced Everton they came out on top thanks to a Salomon Rondón goal and the last time the Albion took on Northampton was in fact a first round, second leg League Cup tie in which the Baggies came out on top with a 4-2 win.

thebestofBirmingham’s prediction: West Brom 0-2 Everton, Northampton 1-3 West Brom

Walsall

The Saddlers came away from the first set of double headers with only a point to show for their troubles. A goalless draw away to Oldham Athletic earned them their one point, before a disappointing defeat to Chesterfield, as Ched Evans scored twice within a matter of minutes to send Walsall back to the Black Country with their tail between their legs.

Next up for the Saddlers is recently relegated Charlton Athletic who have the same record of one win, draw and defeat so far this season, so it’s hard to see how this one will pan out. The last time Charlton were in League One, the Saddlers failed to beat them, drawing 1-1 at home and losing 1-0 away. Could this time be different?

 

thebestofBirmingham’s prediction: Walsall 1-0 Charlton

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