Aston Villa host Birmingham City in the Second City Derby Finale

Aston Villa Birmingham City
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah of Aston Villa competes for the ball with Lucy Quinn of Birmingham City during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Birmingham City Women and Aston Villa Women at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Morgan Harlow/Getty Images)

Birmingham City may have been relegated from the WSL for the first time since 2011 but they will be up for one final fight before they say goodbye. They will do that in their game away at Aston Villa.

The Blues have a proud history since forming in 1968 and have up until the last season have been the dominant club in the Midlands. Champions League semi-finalists, WSL runners up twice, FA Cup winners and finalists, and Conti Cup finalists thrice.

Currently, the City of Birmingham is claret and blue. On Sunday, Aston Villa will be looking to retain bragging rights.

Last time out: Aston Villa better than Birmingham City

In November 2021 for the first time ever in front of fans, Blues hosted Villa in the top tier of women’s football. The Villans won the match 1-0 courtesy of an Anita Asante header from a Sarah Mayling corner.

The rivalry was made even more intense given the fact Villa had six ex-Blues players in the starting lineup. Additionally, there were another five ex-Blues on the bench. Add to that Head Coach Carla Ward and a number of her staff making the transition it created extra spice.

Since that day both teams really struggled in their respective runs up to Christmas. Blues manager Scott Booth was sacked and new interim manager Darren Carter came in. Carter has drastically improved the team, albeit too little too late. Carla Ward has also seen a marked improvement in her team’s performances, most notably a seven-match run where Villa only conceded a single goal or no goals at all.

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What to expect this time: Aston Villa vs Birmingham City

Both teams go into this final day encounter with little to play for in terms of league position. Birmingham City may be relegated but they are a very proud club and will be going full out to beat their fierce rivals. Villa will be looking to finish higher than Everton in ninth place and so must equal or better the Toffee’s result.

Anita Asante will captain the Villans in what will be her final match before her retirement. The 37-year-old has had an illustrious career including over 70 caps for England.

Blues captain Louise Quinn has been outstanding this season. She’s demonstrated not only is she a top centre-back she can also be a threat in front of goal. Quinn having scored five goals in the WSL is on a par with Katie Zelem and Arsenal’s Katie McCabe and Stina Blackstenius.

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Players to watch – Aston Villa

The versatile German Ramona Petzelberger has been making the headlines recently for Villa. She can either play in midfield or on the left-wing where she can make runs into the box. Petzelberger popped up twice in a row at the back post to give the Villans two vital goals.

The young Laura Blindkilde Brown has also demonstrated she is not fazed playing against some of top players in the WSL. She is an exciting player to watch which is matched by her energy levels and determination to never give up.

Players to watch – Birmingham City

Veatriki Sarri, ironically yet another player initially signed by Carla Ward has been instrumental to the Blues. Her darting runs and ability to go past players is a joy to watch. She’s also scored vital goals and provided assists.

Gemma Lawley is such an underrated player for Birmingham. The nineteen-year-old came through the Blues academy and is now a regular centre-back for the club. She’s the kind of player who’s not afraid to throw her body on the line. She’s made several blocks for the Blues this season and will need to be on top of her game.

Predicted lineups

Aston Villa: Hampton; Mayling, Corsie, Asante(c), Pacheco, Littlejohn, McLoughlin, Petzelberger, Blindkilde, Lehmann, Gielnik4

Birmingham City: Ramsey; Lawley, Quinn(c), Scott, Robertson, Murray, Sarri, Finn, Cowie, Whipp, Pennock

The match is at 12 pm on Sunday and can be watched on the FA Player.

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