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Preview: Can Villa put together two halves to beat WBA?

It’s the mini-derby this week. Villa are on a two-match winning streak in it — can they put last week’s collapse behind them and make it three in a row against the club who thinks they’re a big deal?

Michael Regan/Getty Images

So… this could be a really fun, or a really miserable couple of days.

Questions’ll swirl around Villa Park after last week’s collapse, but a pair of wins over West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City would do a lot to boost the mood.

At the end of the day, Villa are playing well, so some optimism wouldn’t be too out of the picture — and the Baggies suck, so there’s that.

What to know about Aston Villa

Carles Gil bosses the game, and is now a doubt for tomorrow’s contest with West Brom. Because it’s Villa.

Him and Adama Traoré are both facing a late fitness test, which really isn’t fun because they’re super important players to the Claret and Blues’ cause — if either or both can’t go, even more of the playmaking responsibility falls on the shoulders of Jack Grealish.

Speaking of him, can we talk about how beautiful that goal was? *insert heart eyes emoji here*

Too bad we blew it.

The defense was really pretty good early in the season, which is why the struggles over the last few games have been so frustrating — I keep telling myself it’ll all work out in the end, but perhaps Tim Sherwood and Micah Richards need to sit down and have a discussion about moving the former England international over to right back. Leandro Bacuna is a guy who does one or two things really well, and is a Championship-calibre player otherwise. His development was killed by having to play right back for too long, and I hate it.

Gabby Agbonlahor played pretty well against Leicester City last time out, I thought, and him and Scott Sinclair have the opportunity to be really dynamic players ahead of Grealish and Gil’s playmaking abilities.

We’ll see. He always plays well in derbies, so here’s to hoping.

What to know about West Bromwich Albion

They’re bad.

They’re managed by Tony Pulis.

I think I hate them more for the fact they’re managed by that sorry excuse for a football tactician than anything else.

For real though, they’re coming off a 0-0 draw with Southampton that featured this expected goals map:

Seriously. That’s a terrible excuse for a football match. Hang your head in shame.

And WBA are a side whose two best players, Saido Berahino and Salomón Rondón, are strikers! What the hell?

At least at Stoke City, Pulis’ sides found their strengths — being tall rugby players — and played to them. But what’s he trying to accomplish right now? I don’t get it.

Can we please just… beat these twats?

The odds

Bovada: Villa 5/4, WBA 47/20, Draw 43/20
Paddy Power: Villa 13/10, WBA 11/5, Draw 23/10
SkyBet: Villa 13/10, WBA 23/10, Draw 21/10

The prediction

I generally like the way we’ve been playing, but it’s frustrating thinking of Sherwood’s errors in the second halves of games.

But WBA are a side who haven’t posed much of a threat going forward recently, and I hope we’ll be able to sit on this game well once we get ahead. Jack Grealish keeps scoring goals, and we’ll throw one in for Gabby because it’s a derby.

Aston Villa 2, West Bromwich Albion 0.

And then it’s on to the real derby. Up the Villa.