At the beginning of the season, if you said to me that after 16 games West Bromwich Albion would be in the top half and ahead of Aston Villa I would not have believed you.

But you have to give credit to the way The Baggies have played this season and they do have a lot more steel about themselves compared to previous Albion sides.

Roberto di Matteo’s Albion will head to Aston Villa on the back of two cracking wins against Everton and Newcastle whereas their opponents have lost their last four league games.

Even though Villa have been struggling this season, I expect Gerard Houllier’s side to come out the blocks quickly and get at Albion from the first whistle. The Villa fans for sure will expect their side to get something from the game.

Comfortable

Albion’s last league game saw them come out 3-1 victors over Newcastle United. The Toon never got going and West Brom came out comfortable winners in the end. The win saw The Baggies move into the top half of the table and onto 22 points.

Somen Tchoyi continued his goal scoring streak with a super curling effort just after the half hour mark. The Cameroon international found the back of the net from just inside the 18 yard box after fine work from Jerome Thomas and Chris Brunt in the lead up to the goal.

Newcastle did not create many clear cut chances and Scott Carson did not have much to do. He did however pull off a smart save from a Steven Taylor header early in the second half.

Albion’s new cult hero Peter Odemwingie made the game safe with two late goals to seal the points for Roberto di Matteo’s side. The Nigerian was able to pounce on a Guthrie slip and although he could have provided Morrison with a simple finish, Odemwingie went on his own and made it 2-0 to The Baggies.

Route one football led to West Brom’s third goal. Marek Cech played a long ball to Odemwingie and with no one near the Nigerian, he was able to round goalkeeper Tim Krul and slot the ball home to make it 3-0. Peter Lovenkrands scored a late consolation for Newcastle but it was all too late.

I would also like to add that Chris Hughton did not deserve to be sacked and to be honest I would be livid with Mike Ashley if I was a Newcastle fan. Hughton managed to win the Championship last season and before he was sacked, Newcastle were comfortably in mid-table in the Premiership.

I’m sure Hughton will have no problems in finding a new club and like I said he did not deserve the sack.

Derbies

Obviously losing to Ipswich in the Quarter-Finals of the Carling Cup was disappointing but two wins on the bounce in the league is just what Albion needed after their difficult spell.

Two mouth-watering Midlands derbies to look forward to and if Albion can get at least four points from them, I’m sure most Baggies fans would take that.

Gerard Houllier has not had the best of starts at Villa Park but I do sympathise with him since most of the senior pros have been ruled out with injuries and the youngsters have had to step in. So he has not been exactly been able to name his best side.

I have to say I have been impressed with both Barry Bannan and Mark Albrighton. Both players in my view have bright futures ahead of them and could be the next best things coming out of Villa Park.

West Brom will be optimistic they can get something against Villa and to be honest I don’t see why The Baggies can’t get anything from the game.

All the pressure in my opinion is on Villa even though they are on a four game losing streak. West Brom however may just fancy their chances and who knows they could even spring a surprise and take all three points. Still we are in for a cracking Midlands derby!

Villa’s confidence will not exactly be high after losing four games on the bounce but they still have quality players like Ashley Young, Stewart Downing as well as Bannan and Albrighton. It will not be an easy game for Albion but then again there are no easy games in the Premiership.

Wolves will be heading to The Hawthorns the following weekend and I will look ahead to the first Black Country derby in the Premiership in my next article.

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