More than local pride at stake

West Bromwich Albion's biggest local rivals might be Wolverhampton Wanderers but few Baggies fans would claim to have a soft spot for Aston Villa either.

With the Hawthorns and Villa Park less than four miles apart, West Brom's fans have long looked to get one over on their big city neighbours but they have to go back to October 2011 to find their last win over the Villains (2-1 with goals scored by Jonas Olsson and Paul Scharner).

Irvine Under Pressure
This weekend something far bigger than local pride is at stake. Both clubs have under-achieved in recent years and both will have been disappointed with their starts to this season. Villa might have won their last two games, arresting a worrying slide, but West Brom are without a win in five and fans, punters and pundits are liking the odds of Alan Irvine being the next Premier League manager sacked - you can keep an eye on this and other betting news at Blue Sq.

Should West Brom lose, it is hard to see how Irvine could keep his job at The Hawthorns, despite receiving backing from his players. With the club just one point above the drop zone, a home fixture against Villa, who have managed to score just 10 goals all season, is exactly the kind of game that the board will be targeting.

With fellow-strugglers QPR up next for the Baggies, a pair of wins is more than possible, and that would be enough to catapult them up the table. Anything less than four points from these two games and they will be in big trouble.

Playing for Survival
As important as West Midlands pride is, Saturday's game is about far more than bragging rights. The West Brom players are playing for their club's survival and they are playing to keep their manager in a job. If they can't raise their game and play to their potential against Villa then it is hard to imagine when they ever will.