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Thursday 20 September 2018

'We're bigger than Baggies'

Villa boss Lambert spices up West Midlands derby

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

PAUL Lambert spiced up tonight's West Midlands derby against West Brom by insisting Aston Villa are still a bigger club than their neighbours.

The Villa Park outfit have traditionally been regarded as the top side in the region due to their 1982 European Cup success, large fan-base and 42,000 capacity stadium.

However, it is the more modest West Brom who have established themselves as the top team in the midlands in recent seasons, finishing higher than their rivals in the Premier League in the last two years.

While Villa have had to significantly tighten their belts financially and Birmingham and Wolves find themselves languishing in the Football League, Albion are going from strength to strength under chairman Jeremy Peace.

Villa and Albion's battle for supremacy has ignited the rivalry between supporters but Lambert believes his side still have bragging rights despite Albion's footballing and financial supremacy of late.

"Aston Villa is a massive club," he said. "I don't think anyone can dispute that. It's a club that's won a European Cup, league titles, has a massive fan-base and has a bigger stadium. That's no disrespect to West Brom at all – they're a good club in their own right. But Aston Villa, for me, is a bigger club.

"Everybody knows a derby is important for supporters. For the team and the football club it's vital to try to win a derby game. But the thing with a derby is the fact it doesn't matter who is playing well.

"Because in that game people do things which look extraordinary that they wouldn't do in a normal game. That's a derby."

Lambert has a lot of time for his old friend Steve Clarke's side. "They're a good side with a lot of experienced lads there who were there before Stevie even came in. They're a good side, I think."

Lambert hopes to welcome back several key players from injury for the clash.

Strikers Andreas Weimann (hamstring) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (ankle) have missed recent games with problems while Christian Benteke had a knee issue while on international duty. All three are in contention for the trip to the Hawthorns while Fabian Delph (knee) and Antonio Luna (hamstring) are also over recent problems.

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