Aston Villa are desperately in need of a victory as they take on West Bromwich Albion in the first of two meetings between the sides in the space of five days.
It was a seventh straight defeat for the team in claret and blue as they came unstuck at Newcastle United on Saturday in a game they should really have taken something from. It was another story of misfiring in front of goal, but they did at least look more threatening on the attack than they have for much of this season.
As a result, manager Tim Sherwood was left to reflect on a lack of confidence and composure inside the opposition penalty area. This is a game in which three points are a must with Sherwood having set a target of six wins from their remaining games to stay up, but that will be a tough ask against a stubborn defensive unit.
And West Brom proved that status again in their last game as they took the lead early on against Southampton with a fine Saido Berahino strike before holding on throughout the remainder of the game and limiting their high-flying opponents to few clear scoring chances.
It was another exhibition of how Tony Pulis has solidified things at the Hawthorns in such a remarkably short space of time, and the Baggies now appear to be in a fairly comfortable position some eight points clear of danger. A draw here, and they will probably be reasonably content.
Aly Cissokho and Kieran Richardson are still out for Villa, who are hopeful over the fitness of captain Ron Vlaar, back after suspension.
The visitors will assess Berahino and strike partner Brown Ideye after the duo were forced off against Southampton. Victor Anichebe remains absent.
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