A testing weekend for West Midlands football

An in form Gareth Barry is returning to Villa Park this weekend

An in form Gareth Barry is returning to Villa Park this weekend

This week Aston Villa are looking forward to playing Everton at Villa Park. I am sure the media will be focussing on the battle of the Belgians. Villa will be delighted to see Christian Benteke back, and I thought he really made a difference when he came on against Spurs last weekend. The Villa defence will be facing Romelu Lukaku who was surprisingly loaned out by Chelsea on Deadline Day. Both Lukaku and Benteke are huge players that love to bully defenders and have real pace to go alongside their natural power. It will also be interesting to see Gareth Barry returning once again to Villa Park. Gaz has been in excellent form this season, and since his loan move from Manchester City, he seems to want a prove a point. He is a great professional and it is no surprise he has played an impressive and important part to Everton’s season so far. Roberto Martinez likes his teams to play football and I am sure they will come to win. However, with the return of Benteke and after last weeks defeat I think that Paul Lambert’s team will be really up for this. I think with the home crowd, the boys will put up a big performance so I am going to say a 2 – 1 win for the Villa.

West Bromwich Albion travel to Anfield in the Premier League this weekend. The Albion have been difficult to beat in recent weeks and Steve Clarke has seen his team attack and take points off some big teams. Brendan Rodgers has really tidied Liverpool up this season and with Luis Suarez back and Daniel Sturridge in form Liverpool are really flying high. Anfield is becoming a bit of a fortress this season and I think that with Liverpool’s quality and home support the Albion’s recent run of form will come to an end. I think it will be a tightly fought game, but I just think that this Liverpool side will have slightly to much for the Albion, so I can only see 3 points to Liverpool for this one.

In the Championship, Birmingham City go to one of my former clubs Derby Country. Its a great stadium Pride Park and there is a real passion from the home fans. Derby have recently sacked Nigel Clough who I played under. Cloughie was a good manager and I was surprised by that decision however it will be interesting to see how Steve Mclaren gets on. Lee Clark is under pressure and after last weeks thumping by Leeds United will be looking for a big response. Both sides have a lot to prove and I think they will cancel each other out. So I’m going to sit on the fence and say it will be a draw.

In  League One, Walsall take on Coventry City at the Bescot Stadium. Walsall is always a difficult place to go and Dean Smith has got his side playing some really good football. The Sky Blues fighting against their 10 point deduction are also going well against the odds and having seen Coventry a few weeks ago, Steven Pressley has built a solid side that look good going forward. Again this will be a tight match, and I think it will be an exciting game but ultimately end in a draw.

Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to last years surprise Carling Cup finalists, newly promoted Bradford City. Valley Parade or as it is known this season the Coral Windows Stadium is a fantastic football ground. I had a good time with Bradford and it is great to see them finally on the rise as they are potentially a huge club. Kenny Jackett has built an efficient Wolves side that has started the season really well. As for most of their matches this season Wolves will start as favourites but with Bradford also riding high in the league I wouldn’t be surprised if Bradford took all 3 points. They will have to play well though.

UTV

Written by Lee Hendrie

 

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