Dean Smith Second City Derby
Aston Villa face rivals Birmingham City tomorrow at Villa Park. We preview the game below. 
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)

The Second City Derby.

Four words that have a considerable amount of weight to Aston Villa and Birmingham City supporters. These four words can suddenly call upon emotions of excitement, fear, dread, dislike, love, hate and joy to supporters of both football clubs. It is no secret that Aston Villa has gotten the better of Birmingham City in many of previous meetings between the two teams, but football can be a very humorous game sometimes.

In football, and certainly in life, there will always be a nervous moment around the corner… stalking and waiting to turn up at just the right moment. For Villa and Blues supporters, the moment will come on Sunday the 25th. 

As supporters of each club claw and fight their way through a work-week, one thought has remained constant. 

“I hope we win.”

There is something magical about the days leading up to a derby day. You can tell by social media posts and not-so-friendly banter that The Second City derby is alive and well in the greater Birmingham area of England. There will undoubtedly be supporters of other clubs that believe their local rivalries are much more meaningful and harsh than others. Let them think that. This is much more than for bragging rights when returning to work on Monday. This is for bragging rights until the next time the two clubs square off. There is just something poetic and wonderful about having a jab at a colleague who may have picked the wrong local team to support for the rest of their lives. 

In most recent times, Aston Villa is the team that holds on tight to bragging rights above the heads of their noisy neighbors. Aston Villa have not lost to Birmingham City in their last five matches, boasting three wins and two draws. This hardly gives confidence to any Birmingham City fan, but the Blues have not looked as bad of a team now as they have in previous years. 

Villa and Blues are remarkably 11th and 12th respectively on the Championship Table leading up to the clash between the two clubs. Both teams have picked up 24 points thus far throughout the season, but Aston Villa are edging their neighbours by a single scored goal. 

Birmingham City have hit a bit of a slippery patch as of late in terms of form. Their last two games played saw a 3-3 draw against Hull City, and a 3-1 defeat to Derby County. While the Blues are slightly struggling lately, Villa are on the opposite end of luck. Aston Villa have seemed to finally turn a corner under new manager Dean Smith and have looked threatening, winning their previous two matches against Derby County and Bolton. 

As if this contest between the two teams needed any further drama, this particular Second City Derby is coming off of the back of an international break. There are loads of different ideas for why international breaks during the season are a bad idea. A seasoned football supporter knows that sometimes an international break is a welcomed break for the majority of the squad that was not called up for their country. On the other hand, it could mean the team coming out flat if key members return tired from international duty or if players pick up knocks. |

For Birmingham City, they couldn’t be more thrilled for a break in domestic action. Most likely because a staggering number of zero of their players were selected by their country for international duty. Aston Villa sent the likes of James Chester and John McGinn off to international duty, and both of them picked up knocks. McGinn and Chester are vital parts that make up the core system of Aston Villa work properly. Chester has seen his form rebound in the weeks following the dismissal of Steve Bruce as manager of Aston Villa, while John McGinn has looked a fantastic player since joining from Hibernian. 

The one thing that is certain for a derby of this magnitude is the sense of pride and excitement that only a game like this could bring. The supporters of both clubs will be watching with baited breath and nervous heartbeats. Local rivalry is one of the few things that cannot be clearly explained when it comes to the arena of sport. 

And sometimes not being able to clearly explain something just proves how much it all means.

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