STAR PREVIEW: West Brom v Aston Villa

The first leg of this Championship Play-Off semi-final was just as fiercely contested and thrilling as neutrals would have hoped and there could well be just as much entertainment on offer tonight.

West Brom fans will be aggrieved at coming here with a deficit and especially the sending off of Dwight Gayle and also the decision not to award a penalty for a clumsy challenge on Mason Holgate, but Villa were deserving of victory over the 90 minutes.

They won the total shot count 21-5 and had 6 shots on target to just two for the hosts, and 10 corners compared to the visitors four. Now it’s true that James Shan was operating a counter attacking style to try and limit Villa to half chances, but Villa created enough pressure to crack the rearguard effort in the end.

The suspensions also put Shan in a tricky position – Gayle will miss this game and the final if he gets there, whilst Hal Robson-Kanu is a big absence too. However, West Brom – whose regular season tally of 87 goals was second only to Norwich – are extremely well resourced in attack, and a Jay Rodriguez / Matt Phillips pairing ought to carry plenty of firepower.

Dean Smith has transformed the fortunes of Aston Villa since arriving and since their 2-0 defeat against West Brom in February they’ve won 11 of their 14 matches with the only defeat coming against Champions Norwich, when Smith rested players.

West Brom v Aston Villa
Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg
20:00 Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Main Event

(Maximum 10 matches)
MAY 2019 CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFF Aston Viall 2-1 West Brom
FEB 2019 CHAMPIONSHIP Aston Villa 0-2 West Brom
DEC 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa
JAN 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE West Brom 0-0 Aston Villa
SEP 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Aston Villa 0-1 West Brom
MAY 2015 FA CUP Aston Villa 2-0 West Brom
MAR 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom
DEC 2014 PREMIER LEAGUE West Brom 1-0 Aston Villa
JAN 2014 PREMIER LEAGUE Aston Villa 4-3 West Brom
NOV 2013 PREMIER LEAGUE West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa
JAN 2013 PREMIER LEAGUE West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa

Jack Grealish’s return to the fold has given them what is the arguably the biggest talent in the Championship, and with him at the helm they’re unbeaten since October. Smith sets his teams to attack in general but he will relish a game in which West Brom must now go forward in search of at least one goal and Villa’s attacking trio of Tammy Abraham, Albert Adomah and Anwar El Ghazi will surely get opportunities to score at least one goal and put a foot in the play-off final, in a game that might well see plenty of goals.

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