Combined 2014/15 XI's: Aston Villa vs West Bromwich Albion

Villa Park Outside

We compare the starting line-ups that Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion will field in this Premier League season.

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan vs Ben Foster

Although Brad Guzan has proven himself to be a decent shot-stopper in recent times, there are few custodians who are more well-rounded than Foster. A commanding presence, he has lightening quick reflexes and there is an argument to suggest that he is the best English goalkeeper at this current moment in time. 

Right-back: Alan Hutton vs Christian Gamboa

Alan Hutton has promised to take his second chance at Aston Villa which he has been granted this season and so far he appears to be doing well. He has been part of a Villa defence, which has been the basis of the side's encouraging start to the season, but there was a reason that he was allowed to leave in the first place. Hutton may be robust, but he is limited and, although Gamboa is yet to play in English football, he has shown his quality on the biggest stage of them all. He was one of Costa Rica's protagonists as they reached the quarter-finals in one of the most memorable tales from this year's World Cup.

Centre-back: Philippe Senderos vs Joleon Lescott

Joleon Lescott looks an astute purchase by West Brom and he is unquestionably the highest profile member of their current squad. He will look to use all his experience to guide the Baggies away from the drop zone and, although Senderos has started his Villa career well, the Switzerland international has proven to be an error prone centre-back in the past.

 

Centre-back: Ron Vlaar vs Jonas Olsson

Ron Vlaar has emerged as one of the most sought-after defenders in the whole of the Premier League after a fine World Cup. Linked with Manchester United and Arsenal, amongst others, this summer, Vlaar is now the most crucial component of this Villa side and getting tied up to a long term contract will be a priority. Olsson is a decent centre-back, but Vlaar has more about his game and wins this battle. 

Left-back: Aly Cissokho vs Sebastian Pocognoli

Aly Cissoko's last spell in England may not have been a happy one at Liverpool, but the signs are that his move to Villa could be a very productive switch. He isn't blessed with the greatest technical ability, but his energy and enthusiasm compensate for this and he looks an excellent signing from Paul Lambert.

Right-midfield: Andreas Weimann vs James Morrison 

One of Villa's most under-rated players, Weimann's tireless energy makes him a threat to any defence across the league. Although his goalscoring record isn't as good as he would have hoped, by his own admission, he still deserves a lot more plaudits than he receives for his performances - even if doesn't regularly make the headlines.

Central-midfield: Ashley Westwood vs Youssuf Mulumbu

In a battle between two very differing midfield stars, Mulumbu comes out on top. Westwood has been steadily progressing at Villa Park and now looks comfortable in England's top division, with his passing range catching the eye, but Mulumbu's destructive influence makes him a protagonist for the Baggies. The Congolese midfield-enforcer is disciplined in his play, but also offers athleticism when going forward and is arguably WBA's finest player.

Central-midfield: Fabian Delph vs Craig Gardner

Delph's England debut against Norway was fine reward for the player he is starting to become. It has taken the former Leeds United man some time to find his feet at Villa, but he is starting to flourish now and he is well en route to fulfilling the promise which he showed in his early years. An all-action midfielder, he offers far more quality than a limited player - albeit a useful midfielder - such as Craig Gardner. 

Left-midfield: Charles N'Zogbia vs Chris Brunt

Charles N'Zogbia hasn't had a great time since making the switch to Villa, but he remains a talented player. Someone who is capable of being a match-winner on his day, he is blessed with excellent natural ability and although Brunt would be the safer option, the Frenchman edges him out because of his more eye-catching style of play.

Striker: Gabriel Agbonalhor vs Saido Berahino

Agbonlahor has all the tools to be a brilliant, top-level modern striker, but he seems to struggle to put them together. His athleticism and pace are breathtaking at times, but sometimes his feet are too fast for his brain and he can appear clumsy in-front of goal - making his goalscoring record far poorer than it should be. Berahino, on the other, hand, is threatening to become the striker that Agbonlahor, who is now 27-year-old, once promised to be. The England youth-international is developing into a really promising Premier League attacker and another season of regular first-team football should do him the world of good.

Striker: Christian Benteke vs Ideye Brown

Ideye Brown remains somewhat of an unknown quality after his record-breaking move to the club. His debut was promising enough, but if he has as good as season as Benteke did in his first-year then he would have done well. The Villa forward's form has dropped slightly since then and a long-term injury was a major blow, but he is one of the finest strikers in England and his return to fitness will be a huge boost for Lambert's side. 

Overall: Aston Villa 6-5 West Bromwich Albion

Villa edge out their Midlands rivals in terms of first-team quality. The Baggies have added a lot to their squad this summer, but they could be in danger of facing the drop this year, whilst Villa will be hoping to build on their promising start.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch