Preview: Birmingham host Villa in Second City derby

Stine Larsen of Aston Villa and Rebecca Holloway of Birmingham challenge for the ball.
Stine Larsen of Aston Villa and Rebecca Holloway of Birmingham during their sides' Barclays FA Women's Super League clash at Villa Park on November 14, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Aston Villa are looking for revenge. This is the second ever WSL Second City derby and currently the City of Birmingham is royal blue.

Birmingham City have always been the dominant team in the Midlands. This is Aston Villa’s first season in the top flight and they have invested heavily.

They have also recruited a significant number of players and coaches from the Blues. The latest in a long line being new interim head coach Marcus Bignot. Their previous head coach Gemma Davies is being kept on for the Clarets’ future.

Survival is the name of the game for both sides in their quest to remain in the WSL. However, in this game bragging rights are also up for grabs.

It was a very scrappy affair last time out, with very little quality on show from either side. One goal from the impressive Claudia Walker was enough to split the sides. Expect some heavy tackles on both ends as the Midlands rivals fight once again.

Ones to watch: Birmingham City

Even though Claudia Walker went on a scoring spree of six goals in seven matches, she has not scored since the two teams last met. Walker missed a penalty against Everton so will be keen to get back to scoring ways.

Jamie-Lee Napier is impressing more and more as each game goes by. She could be the key to unlocking the Villa defence on the left wing.

The right wing position has been unpredictable recently. Sarah Mayling has been on fire, delivering quality crosses and providing assists. But then she got injured and since returning she’s been playing either full back or in midfield.

Emily Murphy has also been very impressive on the right wing but Ward has not always kept her there. Occassionally, Walker or Emma Kelly have been fulfilling that role so Ward has plenty of choice.

Ones to watch: Aston Villa

Villa’s big January signing is Japanese captain Mana Iwabuchi. She has been instrumental to Villa’s recent revival and scored a wonder goal in their victory against Tottenham. Bignot appears to have given Iwabuchi a free role and so Blues will have to watch her closely.

Bignot has also taken significant steps to plug Villa’s leaky defence. Villa were conceding seven goals in a game but not any more. Veteran Anita Asante has rolled back the years, showing why she’s so highly regarded.

Asante typically partners with either Elisha N’Dow or Natalie Haigh. In fact, last time out, Bignot went with five at the back including both defenders alongside the impressive Asmita Ale and Jodie Hutton.

Villa are captained by ex-Blue Marisa Ewers and her leadership qualities are shining throughout the team. She has also been outstanding in midfield.

Predicted line-ups

Birmingham City: Hampton, Scott, Brougham, Mace, Holloway, McCarron, Littlejohn, Murphy, Mayling, Walker, Napier

Aston Villa: Weiss, Ale, N’Dow, Asante, Hutton, Haywood, Ewers, Hanssen, Iwabuchi, Silva, Larsen

Where to watch

The match will go ahead subject to a satisfactory pitch inspection at Solihull Moors. Kick-off is 6pm on Wednesday, February 10 and the match is live on The FA Player.