The Second City derby kicks off Sunday's footballing action as Aston Villa take on Birmingham. Tom Carnduff picks out his best bets.
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
Aston Villa v Birmingham (Villa Park, Sunday, 1200 GMT, Sky Sports Football)
Everyone loves a local derby, especially those on TV to kick off a feast of football on Sunday.
Aston Villa welcome Birmingham with the hosts starting to get going under Dean Smith. They've won their last two, which includes an impressive 3-0 victory away at Derby last time out.
A defeat to the Rams ended the Blues' incredible 11-game unbeaten run, and they followed that up with a 3-3 draw against Hull despite being 2-0 up at half-time.
I like the look of a Villa win here. Smith's men are unbeaten in their last three at home, alongside a seven-game run without defeat in this derby at their own stadium. Goals from Clinton Morrison and David Dunn helped Birmingham wrap up their last Villa Park victory - but that was all the way back in December 2004.
Conor Hourihane is a player who has demonstrated that he can make an impact in this Villa team and I'm keen to back him to strike in what is a massive game for both sides.
At a general price of 3/1, it's clear that Hourihane is fancied to be in the mix for a goal, but going for him to strike from outside the area boosts it to 11/1 and the stats back up a goal from distance.
The midfielder is second for shots on goal in this Aston Villa side, with his 33 higher than any of the club's strikers. The most interesting thing here though is that 29 of those attempts have come from outside of the box.
As a result it has to be worth taking the bigger price on him to score on Sunday. It's probably a good time to point out that both of his league goals this season have come from outside the area and at 11/1 that's the value, especially as he often takes free-kicks.
Local derbies are always tough games to officiate and Robert Jones is tasked with overseeing this one. He sits third in the division for yellow cards shown with 41 in 12 and a game like this should see him add to that tally.
Kristian Pedersen looks good value at 3/1 to be shown a card, with four yellows to his name already leaving him just one away from suspension.
He's high up in the charts for fouls committed by Birmingham players too, with his 23 eclipsed only by Lukas Jutkiewicz, Che Adams and Gary Gardner.
The market does appear to reflect the above so rather than automatically looking to play overs in the bookings markets, 30 to 50 looks like a better-value bet given the referee and disciplinary records of the two teams.
Score prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Birmingham (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
- Aston Villa are unbeaten in their last 12 league meetings against Birmingham (W8 D4), last suffering defeat in March 2005 in a Premier League clash (0-2).
- Birmingham have failed to score in seven of their last 12 league games against Aston Villa, netting just five goals in total in that period.
- Aston Villa have found the net in each of their last 20 Championship games at Villa Park, last failing to do so in December 2017 (0-0 v Millwall).
- Birmingham have won just three of their 13 away games under Garry Monk in the Championship (D3 L7), with all three coming by a one-goal margin.
- Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane has been directly involved in seven goals in the Championship this term (two goals and five assists); the most of any player for the club.
- Birmingham striker Che Adams has scored seven goals in his last nine Championship games, as many as he had in his previous 43 games in the competition.
Odds correct as of 1220 GMT on 22/11/18