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West Brom v Aston Villa: We pick our combined XI

By Luke Hatfield | Football | Published:

With West Brom hosting Aston Villa this week in what's promising to be a classic encounter - we've compiled our own combined XI featuring players from both teams.

Who makes our combined Villa and Albion XI? (Photos: AMA/PA)

Here you'll find Expressandstar.com's combined Villa and Albion XI in each side's favoured 4-3-3 formation - let us know what you make of it...

Goalkeeper

Sam Johnstone

Sam Johnstone (AMA)

The most accomplished and talented goalkeeper in either squad. Johnstone of course, spent last season on-loan at Villa Park, coming agonisingly close to promotion via the play-off final.

Following Villa's defeat at Wembley and subsequent financial problems, Albion pounced on the shot-stopper who now plies his trade at The Hawthorns.

His replacement at B6, Orjan Nyland, has so far struggled to adapt to life in between the sticks in the Championship – producing mixed performances to say the least.

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Both goalkeepers could be quite busy given the attacking players on show for both sides, but Johnstone makes the cut for our XI quite comfortably.

Defence

Kieran Gibbs

Kieran Gibbs (AMA)

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A Premier League left-back playing in the Championship – a lot should be said of Gibbs' ability in this league and his strong start to the season.

Netting twice this season so far, albeit during his spell as a wing-back in Albion's 3-4-1-2 formation, Gibbs can pose a threat going forward and is a solid defender.

He'll be in for a tough evening with the likes of Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Kodjia and Anwar El Ghazi on Villa's books, but he has lots of big game experience.

He makes our team ahead of Neil Taylor, despite the Welshman's recent improved form.

James Chester

James Chester

Despite a shaky start at the heart of Villa's defence this season, James Chester is the first centre-back to make the cut in our XI.

A phenomenal servant for Villa since joining from Albion in 2016, he's also found his way onto the score sheet a number of times this season – most recently with a cute finish during the 3-0 demolition of Middlesbrough.

He'll certainly need to be at his best coming up against the attacking players on Albion's books, but if he's on-form, they may find it hard to breach Villa's back line.

We could have included loanee defender Axel Tuanzebe in his place given his decent form this season, but Chester just makes the cut.

Craig Dawson

Craig Dawson (AMA)

At one point in the summer it looked as though Craig Dawson wouldn't be suiting up for Albion this season – but after keeping hold of the veteran defender he's just pipped Ahmed Hegazi for a place in our combined XI.

He's a real threat in the air, and could be a real problem for Nyland in the Villa goal given his questionable start in the Championship – but he also mops up well.

Dawson has seemed more comfortable in a back four alongside Hegazi, and he'll offer a wise head on the pitch in what's sure to be a heated encounter.

Like Gibbs, Dawson is a Premier League quality defender, and he'll need to use that quality against Villa's stacked front line.

Alan Hutton

Alan Hutton

Scoring a goal for the ages during Villa's recent derby day rollicking of Birmingham City, Hutton is a cult hero at B6 – and makes the cut for our joint team.

A willing runner and hard worker, expect to see Hutton support his winger in attack when possible and do his utmost to keep his opposing number quiet.

He'll face a stern test with the likes of Harvey Barnes on the left, but he's willing and able to take on a challenge, as shown during last season's play-off semi-finals – as he muzzled then-Boro star Adama Traore very effectively.

He's back in action for Villa after suspension, and makes the cut for us ahead of Tosin Adarabioyo and Ahmed Elmohamady.

Midfield

John McGinn

John McGinn

Pound for pound, one of Aston Villa's best signings in recent memory – despite having only joined in the summer.

McGinn has become a firm fan-favourite already, and is one of Dean Smith's first names on the team sheet thanks to his ability to bite in the tackle and carry the ball in midfield.

With seemingly endless energy, he provides the engine for Villa, and is also decent from set-pieces too.

His sensational volley against Sheffield Wednesday was something to behold, and West Brom will need to do their utmost to keep him tied down in this clash – one which he's sure to be up for, having missed the Birmingham City derby through injury.

Matt Phillips

Matt Phillips

When Matt Phillips plays well, Albion play well.

Despite struggling last season, like much of the Albion squad, Phillips has really taken to the Championship with style and panache.

Direct, powerful and capable of finding the back of the net, the 27-year-old has recently been utilised in a midfield three with devastating effect.

His goal against Leeds showcases his skills when on the run, he's someone Villa will need to keep an eye on if they want to secure a good result in the Black Country this week.

Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish

Undoubtedly one of the elite players in the Championship, many Villa fans see Grealish as the best player in the league given his ability on the ball.

Able to influence a game at will, if West Brom allow him time on the ball they're likely to be in for a long evening.

Many teams have caught onto his talent, making him a marked man for some strong challenges, a role which the attacking midfielder is continuing to embrace.

He's started finding the net too in recent games – Albion will be wise to make a game plan to deal with him, if not he could have himself a field day.

Attack

Harvey Barnes

Harvey Barnes (AMA)

The first of three loanees to make the cut in our combined front three, Harvey Barnes has been one of the shining lights of the Championship this season.

Able to turn a game in a heartbeat, his undoubted ability with the ball at his feet is something Villa will need to be careful of.

He's already netted eight times this season, most recently in the 1-1 draw with Brentford – with many of those goals well worth a second glance.

Alan Hutton (if he starts) will face a real challenge in dealing with him coming off the left, and Nyland will need to be on point to handle any long-range attempts on goal.

Dwight Gayle

Dwight Gayle (AMA)

Coming off the right wing for the purposes of our combined XI, Dwight Gayle's loan spell into the familiar grounds of the Championship has paid dividends so far.

Sharp, quick and moving perpetually through the game, Villa will need to limit his opportunities in the box – where he does the majority of his damage.

With nine goals so far this season he's already found his feet for Albion, and will be hunting more goals against a Villa defence which has had a mixed season to say the least.

He edges out the likes of Yannick Bolasie and Jonathan Kodjia for the right-wing spot.

Tammy Abraham

Tammy Abraham

Our man leading the line, Tammy Abraham's form surely puts him in the conversation as one of the deadliest strikers in the championship.

11 goals this season is an impressive stat on its own, but he netted four in the 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest, and seven in his last four games.

At the moment, there's arguably no striker more feared in the second tier of English football, although former Villa loanee Lewis Grabban may have something to say about that.

Albion's back four will need to use all their quality to ensure Abraham doesn't find the back of the net this week.

Our complete XI:

Our Expressandstar.com combined Albion/Villa XI

Subs: Ahmed Hegazi, Conor Hourihane, James Morrison, Jake Livermore, Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Kodjia, Jay Rodriguez

Luke Hatfield

By Luke Hatfield
Digital Sports Journalist - @LHatfield_Star

Sports Journalist with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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