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Third Place Winner, December 2011 Photo Contest
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From the BBC ...


Villa Park
Sunday, 10 April
Kick-off: 1200 BST

Aston Villa captain Olof Mellberg is sidelined after knee surgery with Liam Ridgewell set to replace him.

Gavin McCann returns after after a knee injury, while Nolberto Solano and Ulises De La Cruz are back after absence through international duty.

West Brom boss Bryan Robson is set to name an unchanged line-up as he looks for a fourth win in five matches.

The Albion chief is almost certain to stick with the side which beat Everton, with Robert Earnshaw on the bench.

Aston Villa (from): Sorensen, Delaney, Laursen, Ridgewell, Samuel, Barry, Davis, McCann, Hendrie, Berson, Whittingham, Hitzlsperger, Vassell, L Moore, Angel, Cole, Postma.

# Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel:
"Strikers are always judged on goals, and I haven't got that many this season.

"I've had injury niggles but now I am feeling fully fit again and I want to play a part in getting us into Europe.

"We're not out of touch of reaching that goal and the chance of playing in Europe is something that spurs me on."

# West Brom boss Bryan Robson:
"I couldn't be any happier going into a big derby game. The spirit in the club is great and we're getting the breaks at the moment.

"We need to make sure the momentum doesn't stop and we keep going.

"We need to keep our feet on the ground because there is still a lot of hard work to be done."

BIG-MATCH FACTS

# ASTON VILLA take on West Brom in a high noon Sunday showdown. It's David O'Leary's 80th match in charge and 70th in the Premiership. Villa are one of eight ever presents in the Premiership playing their 500th match this weekend. Victory from their 250th at home would bring the points tally gathered under O'Leary to exactly 100. But the Claret and Blues have drawn more matches in Premier League history than any other club - 143 of their 499 games have finished level pegging.

# O'Leary's Villains have alternated between defeats and victories in their last half dozen League outings. Such inconsistency has seen them seemingly drop out of contention for a European spot, but they go into this game buoyed by last Saturday's 0-3 victory at Newcastle - a feat overshadowed by the Bowyer/Dyer incident.

# Villa are undefeated in 11 League and Cup meetings with West Brom, and have not been beaten in a League game on home turf against their Midlands rivals in over a quarter of a century, winning six and drawing three of the last nine.

# WEST BROMWICH ALBION could be on the verge of pulling off the most remarkable escape in Premier League history. This west Midlands derby is their 20th Premiership match under Bryan Robson, and they're seeking a fifth win. Victorious in four of their last eight League outings has seen them claw their way up to third from the foot. The club, which was bottom at Christmas, goes into the weekend with only goal difference standing between themselves and safety. They are equal on points with Southampton at fourth bottom, but have an inferior goal difference of seven.

# The Baggies are hoping to complete three Premiership victories on the bounce for the first time since between 31 August and 14 September 2002, but they remain the only club yet to keep a clean sheet on their top flight travels.

# Albion put in a tremendous second half fight back to earn a point in a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture in August. Villa's Swedish captain Olof Mellberg headed his side into a fourth-minute lead and Neil Clement nodded in the equaliser before the break. The Baggies last claimed maximum points at Villa Park in a 0-1 triumph on 11 May 1979.

Referee:
Rob Styles (Waterlooville)

SEQUENCES/RECENT FORM

ASTON VILLA
Club stats
Fixtures
Going into the weekend: 10th 41 points
(all statistics are ahead of this weekend's round of Premiership fixtures)

# Won three of the last five - all Premiership.
# Lost nine of the last 17 Premiership outings.

# Won six of the last 11 League games at Villa Park.
# Won three of the last five home Premiership games - keeping clean sheets in all three.
# Lost two of the last five League encounters in front of the home faithful, conceding three goals in both.
# Claimed 13 more points at home than away. Only Liverpool (20 points) and Southampton (15) have a wider differential.
# Kept eight Premiership clean sheets on home turf. Only Chelsea (12) and Manchester United (10) can better that.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Club stats
Fixtures
Going into the weekend: 18th 27 points
(all statistics are ahead of this weekend's round of Premiership fixtures)

# Won three of the last five - all Premiership.
# Last managed three Premiership victories on the spin between 31 August and 14 September 2002.
# Recorded four wins in eight League outings.
# Six points better off to this identical stage than during their only previous Premier League campaign, in the season before last, which resulted in relegation.
# Won five Premiership matches all season. Only Norwich have won fewer (three).
# Drawn 12 of 31 League games this term. No club has finished level on as many occasions in the top division, with the exception of Blackburn and Southampton, who have also drawn 12 each.
# Won four, drawn six and lost nine Premiership games under Bryan Robson.
# Drawn six and lost 12 of the 18 League matches in which the opposition has scored first.
# Scored 30 Premiership goals. Only Blackburn have netted fewer (25).
# Leaked 51 goals in highest division action this term. Only Norwich have had their defences breached more often (63).
# Conceded 14 goals in the last 15 minutes of Premiership matches this season. Only Crystal Palace have shipped more in that final quarter-hour segment (15).
# Managed six clean sheets in this League campaign.
# Never won a Premiership match in their history when the opening goal has been conceded.
# Suffered the longest winless streak in the Premiership this season (15 games between 16 October and 16 January). Every club owning this particular sequence at the end of the campaign have never maintained their Premiership status.
# Own the joint shortest scorers list in the top tier - their 30 goals being scored by just nine different players (but two were own goals).
# Won 11 of 69 Premiership matches all time.

# Only club yet to keep a Premiership clean sheet away from home.
# Won only four of 34 away games in their Premier League history.

KEY PLAYER NOTES/POTENTIAL MILESTONES

ASTON VILLA
Squad profiles

# Thomas HITZLSPERGER, whose rumoured to be going to VfB Stuttgart when his contract runs out at the end of the season, will make his 100th English League appearance, if he plays.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Squad profiles

# Nwankwo KANU is a hat trick short of scoring 50 goals for English clubs (Arsenal and West Brom).
# If he plays, Darren MOORE will be making his 450th career club appearance.
# If on the field at kick off, Jonathan GREENING will be making his 150th club start.

THIS SEASON'S REVERSE FIXTURE:
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Aston Villa
22 August 2004 - Ref: Mark Halsey
WBA scorer: Clement 38
Villa scorer: Mellberg 4

HEAD TO HEAD TOTALS
League: Villa 59 wins, WBA 43, Draws 25
Prem: Villa 1 win, WBA 0, Draws 2

HEAD TO HEAD at Villa
League: Villa 40 wins, WBA 15, Draws 8
Prem: Villa 1 win, WBA 0, Draws 0
 

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Third Place Winner, December 2011 Photo Contest
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Discussion Starter #2
West Brom skipper Kevin Campbell believes his team are good enough to escape relegation.

"I really believe we're going to get out of it," Campbell told BBC One's Football Focus.

"I believe we've got the squad, we've got the right staff and we've got the momentum. Momentum is everything come the end of the season."

The in-form Baggies could move out of the bottom three with victory at Midlands rivals Aston Villa on Sunday.

And Campbell added: "We're really looking forward to the Aston Villa game and if we could get three points there, it would be a massive, massive win."
 

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Aston Villa 1-1 West Brom


Paul Robinson's header deep in injury time rescued a point for West Brom to lift them out of the relegation zone.

Robinson struck at the far post to convert Riccardo Scimeca's cross.

Darius Vassell had put Villa ahead, pouncing on a rebound after Russell Hoult superbly palmed Liam Ridgewell's header on to his crossbar.

Both Hoult and Thomas Sorensen made good saves, while Ridgewell and Jonathan Greening both saw red for head-butting after the break.

West Brom, with three wins in their previous four games, are now fourth-bottom in the Premiership and playing like a team who believe they can retain their Premiership status.

But it seemed for so long as though Villa would take all the points to boost their flagging hopes of qualifying for European football next season.

Villa went into the match on a sequence of win-one, lose-one that stretched back six games.


And having defeated Newcastle 3-0 last week, David O'Leary's team started at a bristling high-tempo, clearly determined to end their inconsistent run of form.

Hoult bravely came off his line to smother Vassell's short-range strike, while Juan Pablo Angel headed wide and shot over.

Samuel almost lobbed Hoult from a tight angle, but the Baggies keeper managed to turn the ball over his crossbar.

From the subsequent corner Villa's committed start was rewarded with a goal.

Ridgewell made a superb contact from Nolberto Solano's corner and Hoult did brilliantly to parry his header against the crossbar.

Vassell was the first to pounce upon the rebound to put Villa in front.

But with half-time looming the Baggies squandered two chances to equalise.

Ronnie Wallwork delivered a precise far-post cross from the right but Kevin Campbell made weak contact and his poorly directed header was easily saved.

Then Laursen made a committed block to deflect a short-range shot from Campbell over after Richardson's deft flick had created the opening.

West Brom created another good chance shortly after the restart, Martin Albrechtsen's cross eluded Thomas Sorensen and Laursen bailed out his keeper, clearing at the second attempt with Geoff Horsfield lurking.

Tensions rose when Ridgewell and Jonathan Greening clashed, locking heads and attempting to head-butt each other several times without seeming to make any meaningful contact.

Both saw red for their foolish behaviour and the match swung back in Villa's favour, with Hoult brilliantly saving a Vassell header.

But the Baggies refused to give up and Sorensen did well to save from Gera.

And West Brom's tenaciousness was rewarded when Delaney inadvertently flicked Riccardo Scimeca's cross to the far post - with Robinson pouncing to score his first goal for the club.

# Aston Villa manager David O'Leary:
"I thought we should have wrapped it up in the first half and even though we were a shadow of ourselves in the second half, we should still have won the game.

"It sums up our season. We have made too many silly mistakes and got one point instead of three.

"We wanted to build on a great performance at Newcastle last week but we haven't done that."

# West Brom manager Bryan Robson:
"It is only a point but it is the manner in which we got it which keeps the momentum going.

"The lads are in good form and really believe in themselves at the moment. It was important we got something out of the game.

"I was really pleased with the response in the second half. We competed really well, created some good situations and deserved a point."

Aston Villa: Sorensen, Delaney, Laursen, Ridgewell, Samuel, Solano (De la Cruz 64), Hendrie, Davis, Barry, Angel (Cole 80), Vassell.
Subs Not Used: Hitzlsperger, Postma, Berson.

Sent Off: Ridgewell (61).

Booked: Laursen.

Goals: Vassell 27.

West Brom: Hoult, Albrechtsen (Scimeca 80), Gaardsoe, Clement, Robinson, Gera, Wallwork, Richardson, Greening, Horsfield (Earnshaw 71), Campbell (Kanu 71).
Subs Not Used: Moore, Kuszczak.

Sent Off: Greening (61).

Booked: Robinson, Kanu.

Goals: Robinson 90.

Att: 39,402

Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).
 
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