Sunday hosts the Second City Derby with the added fire that both Birmingham and Aston Villa are within touching distance of the play-offs. Who will take the bragging rights at the City ground? We explore the odds.
Birmingham have dropped off into mid-table obscurity after their blistering run towards the first third of the season, but results are still coming. Wins against Bristol City and Nottingham Forest have been vital in recent weeks to maintain their play-off ambitions.
Garry Monk might still be getting everything out of his minimal resources, but inconsistency has set in most notably seen with defeats against Hull and Bolton and almost throwing away a four-goal lead against QPR at the start of February.
After a defeat in November’s goal fest of a derby, Birmingham will be hoping that they can continue taking points off play-off chasing rivals and none are more satisfying than denying their bitter rivals, Aston Villa.
Aston Villa are boosted by the recent return to the squad of star man Jack Grealish who’s creativity was greatly missed by the Villians over the past couple of months.
Unlike last the 4-2 win back in November, Aston Villa will have a boyhood Villian in the dugout as Dean Smith gets his first taste as a manager in the Second City Derby.
Last weekend’s 4-0 demolition of Derby County has put the Villains in the perfect frame of mind entering this match. Not only do Villa have the chance of doing the double over their bitter rivals, but they also have a chance of leapfrogging them in the promotion race.
The bookies are pretty coy on this match with neither side looking like the favourite going into Sunday, but the away side are just slightly shorter when it comes to best-price. Betfair Sportsbook are offering Aston Villa at 7/4 for the win, while bet365 are looking at a best-price of 9/5 for a Birmingham win.
For a draw, multiple bookmakers are offering 23/10 for Sunday’s match to become a stalemate.
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John McGinn will return to the match day squad for Aston Villa after serving a two-match ban for collecting his 10th booking of the season. Tom Elphick is expected to be out for another six-week following a foot injury picked up last weekend in the fixture against Derby County. James Chester, Axel Tuanzebe, Alan Hutton, Henri Lansbury, Jordan Lyden all remain on the sidelines for visitors.
The hosts will be hoping to welcome back Marc Roberts into the fold following a calf injury that has kept the defender out since December. French defender Maxime Colin could be missing for this clash after he picked up a hamstring injury in the 2-0 loss to Hull.
Under 2.5 goals @ 17/20 – BET NOW
November’s game might have been one of the Championship matches of the season, but don’t expect another high-octane match. Yes, both sides can leak goals but this fixture has a history of being a cagey affair with one high-scoring match appearing once a decade.
Only twice since 2008 has over 2.5 goals appeared in this fixture, the one previous to November was Birmingham City’s 2-1 win in the League Cup in 2010.
17/20 for under 2.5 goals offers plenty of value in this match and looks to be a safe bet.
Jack Grealish to score anytime @ 9/2 – BET NOW
Since Grealish returned to the side, Aston Villa look to have regained their spark.He is - by far - the best player in the Championship and when he performs the rest of the team go up another level.
The midfielder has progressed through the ranks at Aston Villa and he knows what this fixture means to the club and the fans. He netted in the fixture in November and scored last week against Derby.
He will be involved in any goal Villa score on Sunday, but don’t be surprised if he scores the winner. When you can find a best-price of 9/2 for Grealish to score, you can already see the headlines.
Correct Score – 1-0 Aston Villa @ 8/1 – BET NOW
We expect this fixture to be as tight as history suggests which is why a 1-0 Aston Villa victory catches the key.
Last week’s 4-0 victory against Derby was a statement of intent by Dean Smith side and shouldn’t be underestimated. Aston Villa have come back screaming when it comes to the play-off talk.
We are predicted that a Jack Grealish goal will be all that separates the two sides on Sunday and at 8/1 this selection could prove to be profitable.
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