Michael Cox doesn't anticipate a high quality match, but does expect a draw, or a 2-1 victory either way...
"West Brom have collected the joint-fourth most bookings this season, with Villa in sixth place."
West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa
Monday 8:00, Sky Sports 1.
Match Odds: West Brom 2.1211/10, Aston Villa 3.9, The Draw 3.45.
Monday night's derby is unlikely to be a technically impressive contest, but should be passionate, hard-fought and feature a fantastic atmosphere at the Hawthorns.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke is unlikely to make significant changes from the starting XI that almost recorded a famous victory at Stamford Bridge last time out - they were denied by a controversial late penalty decision. Shane Long has established himself upfront, with Stephane Sessegnon likely to play just behind.
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert's starting selection is less certain, as he has a series of niggling injuries after the international break, but his starting selection is unlikely to be particularly different from Villa's regular XI so far this season.
Frankly, it's difficult to predict which side will make the running in this match. West Brom have averaged 44% of possession this season, the 16th-highest figure in the league, while Villa have averaged just 42%, the 19th-highest figure in the league. With Villa also possessing the worst pass completion rate in the division, perhaps it'll be the home side more likely to build some decent attacks.
But there's not an overwhelming amount of creativity in the midfield zones. Fabian Delph has impressed this season, but primarily with his energy and ability to run with the ball, rather than his tendency to play incisive passes. For West Brom, meanwhile, Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu offer a great defensive shield but little guile, while Sessegnon is a great counter-attacker and a fine dribbler, but again, doesn't record many assists.
Both teams will spread the play wide, but they have very different approaches. West Brom will probably play two crossers - Chris Brunt on the left, and Morgan Amalfitano on the right. Both are capable of going down the outside and whipping the ball into the box, but Long is often the only target for crosses.
West Brom have attempted a higher percentage of shots from central positions than any other Premier League team, primarily because many of these attempts come following deliveries from wide.
Villa, meanwhile, will also play through their wide players - but on the break, rather than by keeping their wingers out wide, despite Christian Benteke's considerable aerial threat. He'll probably get headed opportunities following crosses from the full-backs rather than the wingers, and at set-pieces.
In open play, Andreas Weimann will attempt to sprint in behind ex-Villa defender Liam Ridegwell, while Gabriel Agbonlahor will do something similar from the other flank - although Aleksandar Tonev could play instead.
West Brom have collected the joint-fourth most bookings this season, with Villa in sixth place, and the fact this is a derby, with an evening kick-off, means tensions should be running high throughout the contest. Of the eighteen referees used in the Premier League so far this season, Michael Oliver has shown the fourth-highest yellow cards per match, although he's yet to produce a red. Back over 4.5 cards at 2.77/4.
The statistics involving scorelines in the history of this fixture are particularly interesting. In the fourteen Premier League matches between West Brom and Aston Villa, seven matches have finished in a draw, and seven matches have finished 2-1 (either way).
Basically, there's never been a winning margin of more than one goal, and neither side has ever won this fixture, in the Premier League era, to nil.
I'm going to pay close attention to those statistics, and go for some unusual bets. I'll back West Brom to win 2-1 at 10.09/1, back Villa to win 2-1 at 15.014/1, and cover the draw at 3.55/2. If history repeats itself, it should prove successful.
The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson
In the previous 14 Premier League meetings between these two, both teams have scored on 11 occasions. The only times both teams didn’t score the game ended 0-0 and no team has won by more than a one goal margin (seven of the 14 games ended with a 2-1 outcome). There isn’t much to separate these two in the head-to-heads and they can’t be separated in the current table either - after 11 games they have both secured 14 points.
WBA haven’t had the easiest of starts but have lost just one of their last eight games (away at Liverpool), failing to score just once. Prior to this season West Brom had only drawn 15 of their last 76 top flight games (20%) but have drawn five of their opening 11 games (45%) this season. Their draw ratio is far too high and that has to revert to the mean at some stage.
Villa have also had some good results on the road where they have picked up eight of their 14 points and conceding only three times (second lowest in the league). Their two opening away fixtures at Arsenal and Chelsea were never going to be easy, but they are now on a run of three consecutive away clean sheets.
This looks like another tight affair and normally in a game like this I would be looking to have a saver on 1-1. However, due to West Brom’s draw rate, I am going to risk leaving the saver out and just go with over 2.5 goals @ 2.1.