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Derby Day: A meeting of the Midlands

15 October 2021

A land of opportunity, the West Midlands presents a number of thrilling derby fixtures, one of which will be played out in the EFL this season.

West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City will do battle again this season in the Sky Bet Championship this evening in front of the television cameras.

The teams involved 

Whilst West Brom and Birmingham will be the only two teams to come face-to-face in the League this season, the Championship Clubs also maintain rivalries with League Two side Walsall, and Premier League Clubs Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa.

During the 2018/19 EFL season, West Brom, Birmingham and Aston Villa were all in close confinement in the Championship before Villa departed for the Premier League, and the Blues and the Baggies will face off just 24 hours before Villa post Wolves in the top-flight on Saturday afternoon.

And although the Birmingham and West Brom stand-off is not considered to be one of the West Midlands’ most impassioned rivalries, there is still local pride at stake when the two go head-to-head.

Club connections

First talent spotted by West Brom at the ripe age of 11, Jonathan Leko spent five years in the Baggies’ academy before making his professional bow in September 2015 for the then-Premier League outfit.

Following loan spells with EFL Clubs Bristol City and Charlton Athletic, the former England youth international then made the permanent switch to the Blues in the summer of 2020, before returning to The Valley on a season-long loan this term.

In addition, West Brom’s Kyle Bartley signed a two-year contract extension at the beginning of the current campaign to keep the defender at The Hawthorns until 2023, and the number five has finally found a Club he can call home in the West Midlands.

However, the now-30-year-old first touched down in Birmingham during the 2013/14 season, when he headed out on loan from parent club Swansea City to the Championship Club. It was there that he notched his first senior goal in the Birmingham’s League Cup victory over Plymouth in extra-time.

Last time out

Outside of friendly fixtures, West Brom and Birmingham last locked horns in the Championship during the 2019/20 season, when the Baggies won promotion back to the Premier League at the second attempt, finishing as runners-up behind Leeds United.

In late June of last year, Birmingham welcomed West Brom to St Andrew’s, with the Baggies going on to extend their unbeaten run against City in all competitions to eight games.

As the Championship resumed after a 105-day pause as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, West Brom came from behind twice to preserve that impressive record as Grady Diangana cancelled out Lukas Jutkiewicz’s opener and Charlie Austin neutralised Harlee Dean’s second-half strike.

The forward turned the score-line on its head, putting the icing on the cake, as West Brom leapfrogged promotion rivals Leeds, beating Birmingham 3-2.

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