West Bromwich Albion will look to overturn a first-leg deficit when they host Aston Villa in the second leg of their play-off semi-final at the Hawthorns.
The first leg was played on Saturday, and Aston Villa recorded a comeback win then. West Brom took the lead in the first half when Dwight Gayle opened the scoring. Villa gifted the goal, as a mix-up between Jack Grealish and Glenn Whelan gave Gayle the opportunity. But despite the goal, it was Villa who dominated proceedings. They had the majority of the ball, and eventually that made the difference.
Conor Hourihane leveled the tie with 15 minutes to go with a brilliant long-range strike. Tammy Abraham made it 2-1 with a penalty soon after Grealish went down in the area. Albion also appealed for a late penalty of their own, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Gayle was sent off in the closing stages for a challenge on Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer. That red card could have a significant effect on the second leg.
“It’s very frustrating. Dwight Gayle’s a big player for West Brom,” said West Brom caretaker coach Jimmy Shan. “And we should have a penalty ourselves. There was no attempt to win the ball in Abraham’s challenge on Holgate. It was a penalty all day long.”
Villa dominated the game, and they had a whopping 70% possession. They took 21 shots in the match, compared to just five from Albion. But West Brom can’t afford to adopt a similar approach in the second leg as they will be chasing the game. They will need to score at least once to take the game beyond regulation. West Brom were the second-highest scorers in the Championship with 87 goals, so they should be confident of doing that. Norwich scored the most with 93. But the absence of Gayle will be felt keenly in that department.
For Villa, they would be looking for more of the same. Especially in the second half, they took the game to West Brom. Abraham and Grealish will be crucial to their hopes, as being the away side will not be easy. The last time these two sides met, West Brom won 2-0 courtesy of goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and Jay Rodriguez.
Jacob Murphy should come into the lineup in place of Dwight Gayle. Murphy will play on the left side, and Matty Philips should continue on the other flank. Jay Rodriguez will continue to lead the line. For Villa, the lineup should remain the same. Hourihane could replace Whelan in midfield, as the latter did not impress and Hourihane contributed positively after he came on.
West Brom vs Aston Villa Prediction
Villa will attempt to be defensively tight, as a draw is enough for them. West Brom failed to create much going forward in the first leg, and they will attempt to change that. The total goals in this one should be less than 2.5, and a draw seems a likely result which will send Villa to the final.