It's rivalry week for Aston Villa! With Birmingham City toiling in 17th place in the Championship, the best local derby that Villans have to look forward to is the match against West Bromwich Albion. Some Villa fans have started to disdain their local counterparts, though, and have moved away from thinking of the match as a rivalry. They're wrong. It's a long and storied affair between these two clubs, and it's one we should enjoy.
But the crux of any rivalry is determining a winner. In that spirit, let's take a look at some statistics to put to bed once and for all who is the better team. Note: not EVERY one of these comes out in favor of Aston Villa. But most of them do.
Because West Brom are terrible.
The number of days since Aston Villa have beaten West Brom and vice versa, respectively. The most recent win in the series does, actually, belong to West Brom, a 1-2 affair at Villa Park that saw a 23rd minute penalty from Darren Bent go to waste thanks to goals from Jonas Olsson and Paul Scharner. You may also remember that as the match in which Phil Dowd gave Chris Herd a red card in the 36th minute that was later overturned because Phil Dowd is an idiot. West Brom couldn't convert their penalty, but enjoyed a one-man advantage for the rest of the match.
Since that match, though, the teams have battled to four straight draws: 0-0, 1-1, 2-2, and 2-2.
Villa in Four
Villa in Four
The all-time series between the two teams, expressed from Aston Villa's viewpoint in wins, draws, and losses. This means that Villa are 22 matches over .500 all-time against West Brom. Despite the fact that Baggies were the last winners in the series, Villa have absolutely dominated in the past 40 years, where the bulk of their advantage was accrued. Since 1974, Villa lead the series 22-15-9.
In that span (46 matches) Aston Villa have outscored West Brom 68-42 (a differential of +26). In the nine losses since 1974, Villa have never lost by more than two goals, whereas West Brom have been beaten by three goals on three occasions and four goals twice. When I said earlier that Aston Villa have dominated in the past 40 years, I was being polite to Baggies fans. They've been absolutely throttled. And despite the past six matches not adding to Villa's glory, the history tells us that it's only a matter of time before Villa begin to win again.
126 years 9 months 24 days
The time since Aston Villa have been below .500 in the all-time series against West Brom. The first match between the two clubs ended in a 0-0 draw on January 3 in the 1885 FA Cup. West Brom would win the replay 3-0 seven days later on January 10. The third meeting occurred on April 2, 1887, and Aston Villa won. Since that point, Villa have not fallen below .500. That makes April 1, 1887 the last day that Baggies had the upper-hand.
In fact, West Brom have not been above .500 in the series since October 31, 1890. On November 1, they lost to Aston Villa 0-3 to push the series to 4 Villa wins, 2 draws, and 3 Baggie wins. They've never been above .500 in the 123 years, 2 months, and 24 days since. That's more than a century of trailing Aston Villa!
The number of teams that Aston Villa have beaten more than West Brom. One of them, Everton, is pretty much an even series, with Villa leading 79-58-78. The other actually shows Aston Villa as more dominant than they are against West Brom: against Sunderland the claret and blue are 80-44-54 all-time.
But with those two clubs aside, Aston Villa have beaten no other club more than they have Baggies. In the club's 140-year history there are few examples of dominance more than that of Aston Villa over West Bromwich Albion. There are plenty of Villa fans who would like to poo poo the WBA rivalry. "We're obviously better than they are."
And yeah, Aston Villa are obviously better than West Brom. But that's no reason not to enjoy the rivalry. It's fun to consistently beat up on the weakling, and in reality the matches are always a tense affair. Wednesday's match should be... well, "fun" isn't the right word, but interesting. It's essentially a 6-point affair. If Villa can win they'll vault themselves a bit further out of the relegation fight. If they lose, suddenly everything becomes miserable.
So enjoy the rivalry. Then again, if you've been a Villa fan for any length of time, chances are you already have enjoyed it.
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