Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion renew their midlands rivalry at the Hawthorns on Sunday in the Premier League.

The big news from a Baggies perspective this week was the dismissal of boss Slaven Bilic, who was sacked just 14 hours after a 1-1 draw away at Manchester City.

Bilic’s tensions with the Albion board were well documented, with the surprise sale of Ahmed Hegazi a prime example of what was a fractured relationship.

The Croatian was convinced West Brom had improved in recent games, and despite Manchester City’s lacklustre season so far, a draw away at the Etihad is not to be sniffed at.

However, the result wasn’t enough to stop the axe falling on Bilic who was sacked on Wednesday and replaced by Sam Allardyce.

‘Big Sam’ has been out of management for over two years, and recently professed to having itchy feet about a return to the game, claiming this spell away from football has been the longest in his lifetime.

Much like Billic, Allardyce’s aim is to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, but he faces a tough start against a midlands rival in Aston Villa on Sunday.

Villa take on the 19th placed Baggies off the back of a 0-0 draw against Burnley which they really should’ve won – their 27 shots without scoring marks the most attempts of any side without finding the net in the last two Premier League seasons.

As such, Dean Smith’s side dropped in to the bottom half of the table, but do have two games in hand over the majority of the rest of the division.

Villa will be boosted ahead of the game too by the returns of Douglas Luiz and Matty Cash from suspension, but Ross Barkley is rated 50-50 to feature after a recent knock.

West Brom meanwhile will assess Sam Field and Hal Robson-Kanu ahead of the game, but the match will come too soon for Matheus Pereira, Kyle Bartley and Conor Townsend.

West Brom v Aston Villa kicks off at 7.15pm on Sunday 20th December.

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