Football: COMMENT: The Bottom Line; Fear of Relegation Adds Further Spice to Tomorrow's Derby, Writes Chief Football Writer Hyder Jawad

Article excerpt

Byline: Hyder Jawad

Eleven goals in 15 matches --Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers have that much in common. No two teams in the Premiership have proved to be so inept in front of goal this season and yet, when they meet at Villa Park tomorrow, can we expect fireworks?

Derbies are notoriously impossible to predict. They are either overhyped only to end in anticlimax, or they are treated as normal Premiership matches and end up exceeding all expectations.

This is one match, surely, when those who have underachieved will rise to the challenge and make us wonder why there was ever this much concern.

Villa cannot score, while Wolves can neither scorer nor defend. Logically, it should finish 0-0, but we all know better than that, don't we?

It is inconceivable that Wolves could secure the 6-0 victory that would see them jump two places and send Villa to the bottom of the table, yet we know to expect the unexpected.

Will this be the occasion when Darius Vassell, the England international striker, finally looks as though he is on top of it all again? Not since the World Cup has he given any indication of fulfilling his potential. With no Premiership goals this season for Villa, he needs to deliver and he knows it.

David O'Leary, the Villa manager, is still searching for his preferred striking partnership. Individually, Vassell, Marcus Allback, and Juan Pablo Angel are fine. Yet put any of the two together and the consequences are usually uninspiring.

Here are three strikers who have performed well at international level yet seem to suffer mental blocks in a Villa shirt.

More in keeping with his reputation is Gavin McCann, whose role in midfield tomorrow will be pivotal for Villa. If he and Gareth Barry dominate, Villa should create enough chances from which they will score at least once.

Holding the midfield for Wolves are likely to be Paul Ince and Alex Rae, two of the toughest, most enthusiastic players of their kind in the Premiership. …