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FeaturesSuper statto: SearsMidlands kings: Villa’s crown in danger of slipping off

Midlands kings: Villa’s crown in danger of slipping off

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By Brian Sears

8 December 2010

Aston Villa have been kings of the Midlands in the Premier League era; in 16 of the 18 completed seasons they have finished higher in the table than all their rivals from the region. For season by season detail, see the table below.

This is a proud record, based on an ever-present status in the division unmatched by any of the other Midlands teams. Indeed, four years ago Villa were the only Midlands team eating at the Premier League table while the rest were nibbling crumbs at Championship level or lower.

The only two times that Villa haven’t been Midlands kings was in 1994-95, when newly promoted Nottingham Forest finished third as Villa ailed in 18th place; then in 2002-03, newly promoted Birmingham finished in 13th as Villa ailed in 16th place.

As things stand, West Bromwich Albion, Stoke and Birmingham are flying higher than Gerard Houllier’s sorry crew, and only Wolves are worse off. But. Indeed we have a but, a but that should bring hope.

Villa welcome West Brom to Villa Park this weekend in the knowledge they have met eight times in the Premier League, and Villa have never lost, winning four and drawing four. Only against Blackpool and Wolves do Villa have a better points-per-game record among the current Premier League teams (see right-hand side of graphic below).

Wolves and Birmingham collide in a second Midlands derby this weekend, with Birmingham unbeaten from four previous Prem meetings thanks to a pair of wins and two draws. City gained both wins last season.

Stoke, with a home game against newcomers Blackpool, could yet be the Midlands club on the steepest upswing this weekend. If Stoke win and West Brom do no better than draw, then Stoke will finish the weekend at Midlands monarchs in waiting.

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