Kieran Richardson started today, and that's pretty much everything you need to know. With Fabian Delph and Jack Grealish available, Kieran Richardson started. So, too, did Charles N'Zogbia, but he's not the story of this match.
It was your pretty standard derby fare, with West Brom having the upper hand, but not dominating. But then, in the 22nd minute Kieran Richardson went sliding into a West Brom player's ankle with his studs up and nowhere near the ball. It was every bit a red, just like Vardy's tackle on Westwood was last week. The difference was that Richardson saw the card.
Up until then, he had contributed nothing, and after the card, he actively hurt Villa. They managed to hold off the inevitable for a while, though. There was some decent defending, and there was a lot of incompetence from the Baggies. In the 72nd minute, though, a ball came into the box that Brad Guzan absolutely botched. He ran right past it. But a Villa defender blocked the shot and Brad was able to get back and block the rebound attempt. Unfortunately, Craig Gardner got on the second rebound and buried it.
And that was that. Down a goal, Paul Lambert brought in Ron Vlaar and Andi Weimann, which made us think that perhaps he'd go three at the back and push Alan Hutton and Aly Cissokho up the wings. Except Cissokho came off with Carlos Sanchez. Villa got a few more chances, but I think that's more to playing desperately than any tactical genius of Lambert's.
So in the end it's a 1-0 loss in the derby. The five-match unbeaten run is done, and the two-match winning streak is over. Next weekend against United, Villa will be without Tom Cleverley (loanee at parent club), Alan Hutton (fifth yellow), Kieran Richardson (red), and Ashley Westwood (injured). If you want to tune out for the next week, no one will blame you.