Dean Smith Plays it Cool as Gary Monk Turns on the Mind Games

The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Birmingham City 2018

Who saw that coming? 3-0 at Derby. It has to be the best result since the Wolves game.

After an outstanding second half, Villa picked up their first away win since the opening day of the season, and what better preparation for Sunday’s big derby clash.

We will have a slightly nervous wait over James Chester and John McGinn, but things are looking hopeful.

Unlike previous seasons, Birmingham are right next to us in the table, and in pretty decent form.

But of course, form goes out of the window in a derby match, as the cliché goes. Still it maybe time to use that William hill promo code and back Villa for a third win on the trot.

What an occasion too for Dean Smith, the boyhood Villa fan, although he has been keen to downplay the derby hype.

What on earth will happen on Sunday?



11th in the league table with the 12th best home record.

Last five matches at home: W 3, D 1, L 1  


12th in the league table with the 15th best away record.

Last five matches away: W 2, D 2, L 1  

Smith on Derby clash

“The biggest thing for me is that we can’t be obsessed with beating Birmingham City. We have to be obsessed with winning every game.

“That’s regardless of whether it’s Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, Derby County – our obsession is to get into the top two this season – or the top six if we can’t make the top two.

“I’ve been to the derby game and sat in the stands as an Aston Villa fan before.

“Even as Brentford manager, I came to the game with my daughter to watch the 2-0.

“My earliest recollections of the matches were during the League Championship winning era.

“I certainly know what it means to the supporters.”

Monk on Villa

“We are complete underdogs, they are favourites with every single bookmaker, everyone expects them to win.

“The squad they have, the expectations people had of both clubs at the start of the season, we were expected to be avoiding relegation, they were expected to get automatic promotion to the Premier League.

“There might not be much difference in the table but if you look in terms of expectation, what investment has gone into the squads – what both teams should and shouldn’t be doing.

“They have a huge talented squad, everything is against us, we are the underdog there is no getting away from that, everyone says it.

“But we have managed to overcome a few odds this season against teams that are supposedly promotion favourites.

“We have managed to acquit ourselves well in those games and we need to do the same again this weekend.

“I wouldn’t say there is no pressure but everything is favoured for them so we have to go there and try and overcome that.”

Memory Match

6th Oct 1993 – Villa 1 Blues 0 (League Cup)

A goal from Dean Saunders ensured Villa’s progression in the League Cup thanks to a 2-0 aggregate win. It would be the last time the two clubs would play for nine years.

Player to Watch

Che Adams – The Blues striker has scored seven goals in his last nine, as many as he had in his previous 43 league games.

Embed from Getty Images

Birmingham City are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 matches

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

It’s Derby Day. The first games you look out for when the fixtures are released.

We’ve had a good record against Blues since we dropped into the Championship, winning both home games and picking up draws away.

This time around however, it’s slightly different.

Gary Monk’s men are level on points with us ahead of Sunday’s game – a far cry from the last time they visited Villa Park.

Birmingham are also undefeated in 12 of their last 13 matches. It’s an interesting clash in prospect.

While Blues are hoping to have a near fully fit squad for the derby, Villa have injury concerns.

Chester is expected to feature on Sunday at the time of writing. It’s less clear if McGinn will play a part, however, while Bjarnason will miss the game.

McGinn would be a big loss, but to be without Chester and McGinn would be very worrying indeed.

Hopefully those two players are in the team when the squads are announced at 11am on Sunday to give everyone a psychological lift going into the game.

“They have a huge talented squad, everything is against us, we are the underdog there is no getting away from that” – MONK ON VILLA


Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Blues will likely be able to name a near-fully fit squad on Sunday, but there’s one player they’ll be without, thanks to Villa’s negotiations in one of the Summer’s surprising transfers.

Gary Gardner, a regular in Birmingham City’s midfield, is not eligible to face his parent club, so his brother Craig could feature instead.

While this gives Monk something of a selection dilemma, he’ll also be concerned about Blues’ record at Villa Park over the last decade or so.

In all competitions, we have won six of our last seven home matches against Blues, and kept a clean sheet in our last five home matches against them.

We’ll need to stay focused and we could be in for an eventful second half, if the history books are anything to go by. We’ve been drawing at half time and winning at full-time in five of our last seven games in this fixture (again in all competitions).

Hopefully a packed Villa crowd can help Villa secure the three points, continuing our good scoring record at home – we’ve scored in each of our last 20 league games at Villa Park.

While Blues’ home form has been decent, they’ve won just three of their last 13 away games in the league. Intriguingly, those three wins were recorded by a one-goal margin.

Another check of the history books tells us that Blues have failed to score in seven of their last 12 league games against Villa, managing to score five times in total during that time.

While injuries are a concern, Sunday represents a great chance for us to add to the momentum of back-to-back wins, with a win in such an important game for the city.

The Derby game showed us what Dean Smith’s Villa are capable of.

Hopefully we can play at the same level against our rivals this weekend.


Latest MOMS Podcast. Ep 57 coming before game too