Darren Moore takes his West Bromwich Albion side to Villa Park this weekend as the Championship campaign rolls on. The Baggies managed to steal a controversial point from their midweek fixture, with Jay Rodriguez’s 89th-minute penalty securing a 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest at The Hawthorns. Meanwhile, Aston Villa were outclassed by Brentford as they fell to a 1-0 defeat, Dean Smith thwarted by his former club.
Darren Moore Without Key Players For Villa Clash
West Brom are forced to make a change to their massively productive front line with Dwight Gayle suspended. Gayle, on loan from Newcastle United, has been a key figure in the Baggies’ goal-filled season. He shares 31 of Albion’s goals with strike partner Jay Rodriguez, as the pair have struck up a tremendous partnership.
The 28-year-old will miss the trip across the Midlands to Villa Park, though, as well as Albion’s visit to QPR following retrospective action from the FA. Gayle is judged to have dived in the penalty area resulting in West Brom’s late penalty equaliser on Tuesday. A three-person Football Association review panel charged Gayle with ‘successful deception of a match official’ as efforts to eradicate simulation continue.
With a number of Albion’s key attacking players missing, Darren Moore could well be forced to change his system. The Baggies are without Matt Phillips and Hal Robson-Kanu, both missing through injury, as well as Gayle. This will almost certainly force Moore away from his preferred 4-3-3 formation, perhaps dropping to a 4-4-1-1.
Central defender Ahmed Hegazi could return from a hamstring injury but, if not, it won’t cause a massive headache. Kyle Bartley or Oluwatosin Adarabioyo can slot into that role alongside Craig Dawson, although neither have been in particularly fine form lately.
Hand of Rod
When West Brom and Aston Villa renewed their rivalry at The Hawthorns earlier this season, more controversy ensued. Once again, a Baggies equaliser in the dying moments of a 2-2 draw came under intense scrutiny. Rodriguez threw himself at the ball as Matt Phillips whipped in a cross. His bravery was applauded and his desire was unquestioned, but his finish was dubious.
In the desperation of a last minute equaliser, Rodriguez gambled on a near post cross from Phillips. He headed the ball against his own hand as he knocked it past the oncoming Villa goalkeeper, Orjan Nyland, before touching the ball again with his hand as he crashed to the ground, helping the ball across the line.
This needed very little spice added to what is already a tasty fixture, but the Hand of Rod has done just that. Rodriguez has scored six goals in his last eight league games, adding to his tally this weekend will only add to the expected animosity.
Attention turns to Villa Park as these old rivals butt heads once again. Aston Villa need three points to steady their ship as they’ve drifted away from the play-off places recently. West Brom are looking to close the gap on the automatic promotion spots as they look to continue their impressive form on the road. Winning six of their last seven away fixtures makes Albion the form team heading into this historic fixture.