How Aston Villa Will Line Up Against West Bromwich Albion

Adam Bundy@adambundy11Contributor IJanuary 29, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on January 18, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Wednesday will be derby day in the West Midlands as Aston Villa face off against West Bromwich Albion for the second time this season.

Although all matches are important, Paul Lambert will be especially eager to guide Aston Villa to a win against their local rivals, especially in front of a home crowd.

Their first meeting of the season was a breathless affair that ended a 2-2 draw, and their second clash should be similarly enthralling. West Brom are in the midst of transitioning to a new manager, Pepe Mel, while Villa are fresh off an encouraging display at Anfield.

Here is how Aston Villa will line up against West Brom at Villa Park.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan

Brad Guzan has been Villa's undisputed, first-choice keeper since Lambert took charge at the club, and the American has given his manager no reason to replace him in the starting lineup. Guzan will be facing a rejuvenated West Brom attack under Pepe Mel that will test the Villa shot-stopper.


Right-Back: Matthew Lowton

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Matthew Lowton of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Swansea City at Villa Park on December 28, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

After a stellar debut season, Matthew Lowton has experienced a dip in form that has seen him split time at right-back with new arrival Leandro Bacuna. Lowton had seemingly regained Lambert's full trust until he arrived late to training and was left out of the squad against Liverpool.

Fortunately for Lowton, Bacuna struggled against Liverpool, and Lambert would be wise to reinstate Lowton, whose crossing ability could be crucial to supply Villa's front line. 


Centre-Backs: Ron Vlaar and Ciaran Clark

The partnership of Ron Vlaar and Ciaran Clark has steadily improved over the past season and a half, and the pair have clearly entrenched themselves as Lambert's first-choice defensive pairing and are likely to continue their union on Wednesday.

Vlaar may just be Villa's most important player; the team struggled mightily in his absence during December. The Dutchman is a true rock at the back, and his well-timed tackles have prevented many goals. Clark, on the other hand, remains a committed player who is making fewer of the rash challenges  that marred his early career.


Left-Back: Ryan Bertrand

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Ryan Bertrand of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on January 18, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Ryan Bertrand made his Villa debut by starting at left-back against Liverpool, and his strong performance should keep him in the team. Antonio Luna and Nathan Baker have struggled at times this season, causing Lambert to sign Bertrand to cover Villa's weakness. Another good showing on the left from Bertrand will be a relief for Villa fans who are desperate to find consistency from that position.


Central Midfielders: Fabian Delph, Ashley Westwood and Karim El Ahmadi

Perhaps the most consistent feature of Lambert's tactics this season has been his preference for a midfield trio that most often features the threesome of Delph, Westwood and El Ahmadi. Although lacking in creativity, the three midfielders have grown comfortable playing together, and each player offers something unique.

Delph is eager to run at opposing defenders and ignite a sudden counter. El Ahmadi, the most experienced of the three, has a strong awareness of space and has become more comfortable making attacking runs into the box.

Westwood is the team's primary passing outlet and protects the back line. The trio will be especially eager for Wednesday's game as El Ahmadi and Westwood scored Villa's two goals in this fixture early in the season.


Centre Forward: Andreas Weimann

Despite failing to reproduce his offensive output from last season, Weimann remains one of Lambert's favourites. He began to repay his manager's faith with a goal against Liverpool, and he is likely to start just behind Villa's strikers on Wednesday. The Austrian will be expected to make dangerous runs and be prepared to receive the knockdowns and lay-offs his strikers will provide him.


Strikers: Christian and Grant Holt

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27:  Grant Holt of Wigan Athletic in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic at The Valley on October 27, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)
Alex Broadway/Getty Images

With Gabriel Agbonlahor's fitness in question, Lambert may turn to one of his winter signings to replace him. Grant Holt, recently signed on loan from Wigan, came on for the injured Agbonlahor at Anfield, and he is poised to make his first start for the club against West Brom.

Lambert has lauded Holt and has stated his trust for the former Norwich striker over Nicklas Helenius, per reports by Mat Kendrick of the Birmingham Mail.

Partnering Holt will be the resurgent Benteke, who is finally regaining his form from last season that saw him terrorize opposing defenders. When Benteke is at his best, Villa's offence operates at a considerably higher level, and the Belgian will be vital to securing the three points on Wednesday.