The race for promotion in the Championship is well and truly on. With every game week that goes by it looks more and more likely that Norwich and Leeds will be going up automatically, leaving four playoff spots to be filled. West Brom and Darren Moore look set to be in there but Dean Smith’s Aston Villa will still back themselves.
This weekend sees the two of them come together in what promises to be a huge game, and we’ll be profiling the two gaffers to see who might edge the tactical battle. With the game being at Villa Park there’s no doubting that Smith has the advantage, yet you cannot rule out a tactical masterclass from the West Brom man, who very nearly completed the great escape last season.
When Dean Smith was appointed at Aston Villa the feeling around Villa Park was a positive one. The club already had everything they needed to succeed in the squad. Tammy Abraham has proven to be a goal machine and with the likes of Conor Hourihane, John McGinn and Jack Grealish behind him, promotion should be a real possibility.
However, it’s not as easy as that and the position that the Villains were in when Steve Bruce let the club. Things are starting to get back on track, though, and after securing a 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns back in December the fans will be desperate to come away from the tough Midlands clash with all three points, although it won’t be easy, especially after their tough loss against Brentford midweek.
TT GRADE: A
Since Darren Moore took over at West Brom when Alan Pardew was sacked he’s done a great job and the Baggies. Their relegation simply cannot be attributed to the 44-year-old and this season could well see the once-interim coach get the club right back up to where they belong in the Premier League. However, after a great start, they’ve tailed off slightly and now sit 4th, comfortably in the playoff spots.
The January window was a tough one for Moore as he lost one of his prize assets in Harvey Barnes. However, whilst he still has the goals and talent of Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle, plus the recently added Jefferson Montero and Jacob Murphy there’s no reason why he can’t climb back up the table as they’re just six points off of Norwich in the automatic spots.
TT GRADE: A+
Whilst Smith may have done a great job to start turning around Villa from the Bruce days, but the way that Darren Moore has transformed this Baggies team, starting at the backend of last season is second to none. The chances are the clash on Saturday will be a nervy one, but given the way West Brom play, it would be no surprise to see Moore outwit Smith.