Wednesday media watch [29.01.14]: West Brom previews
Sky Sports: West Brom coach Pepe Mel wanted former club Real Betis to sign Christian Benteke when he was in charge of the Spanish outfit. Albion's Premier League trip to midlands rivals Villa on Wednesday is set to pit Mel against Benteke, who has made a considerable impact in English football. The Belgium international has netted 30 goals in all competitions for Villa following his move to them from Genk in August 2012, with 23 of them coming last term. And after a recent 12-game scoring drought, Benteke heads into the derby back in form, having netted once in each of his last two matches.
Daily Express: Pepe Mel is only too aware of the threat posed by Christian Benteke to West Brom tonight after admitting he has previously tried to sign the Aston Villa striker. The new West Brom head coach has revealed he even asked Real Betis to sign him when he was manager there in 2012, before their financial crisis struck. It was a transfer tussle Villa eventually won, with the Midlands club paying £7million to Genk for the striker. Benteke repaid them with 23 goals last term which proved pivotal to their survival and, after a dip in form, he is starting to look like his old self after scoring in back-to-back games against Arsenal and Liverpool. Yet, although a conformed long-term admirer of the Belgium international, Mel is out to ensure he is a marked man in this evening's derby at Villa Park.
Birmingham Mail: Pepe Mel believes Victor Anichebe can be Albion's answer to Christian Benteke - after the Baggies boss revealed that he tried to sign the Villa striker last summer. Mel, who was then boss of Real Betis, looking into signing the Belgium international following his excellent maiden Premier League campaign. Betis were unable to afford Villa's £25million valuation of the forward, who scored 23 goals last term. Albion travel to Villa tonight, with Mel hopeful of gaining his first victory as Baggies head coach. The Spaniard has been impressed with what he has seen of Anichebe so far, both in training and in his 45-minute outing against Everton. Anichebe has otherwise struggling for fitness and form this season, but Mel feels the Albion forward is capable of having the same impact as his Villa counterpart if he puts his mind to it.
Daily Star: Pepe Mel has revealed he tried to buy Christian Benteke. If new West Brom boss Mel had had his way, Aston Villa's big bruiser would have been sunning himself in Spain right now instead of psyching himself up for tonight's Midlands derby. Mel admitted he was interested in signing the Belgian international last summer while he was in charge at Real Betis.
Daily Mirror: Pepe Mel insists he already knows the damage Christian Benteke could potentially do to his West Brom side after revealing he previously tried to sign the Aston Villa striker. The Baggies' new Spanish coach admits he is a long-term admirer of Benteke - and even asked Real Betis to sign him when he was in charge there in 2012. But Villa eventually won the race for the Belgium international, shelling out £7m to Genk - and Benteke repaid them with 23 goals last term. After a dip in form, the 23-year-old is back among the goals after scoring in back-to-back games against Arsenal and Liverpool - and Mel is out to ensure he is a marked man in Wednesday night's Midlands derby.
Goal.com: West Brom head coach Pepe Mel has warned his side to be wary of the threat Aston Villa pose on the break ahead of their Midlands derby. Mel takes the Baggies to Villa Park for his first away Premier League fixture on Wednesday after claiming a 1-1 home draw with Everton in his first game in charge. Despite the fact The Hawthorns outfit have won in just one of their last 12 top-flight outings, they could move as high as 10th in the table if they beat Villa and other results go their way. But Mel is expecting a stern examination of West Brom's credentials at Villa, saying he has been impressed with Paul Lambert's side's recent performances while paying particular tribute to their potency on the break.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert reckons the Villa Park faithful could give his side the edge as they attempt to secure bragging rights over Albion for the first time in seven attempts tonight. Having enjoyed superiority over the Baggies for more than 30 years, Villa have failed to win any of the past six derbies against their local rivals, losing two before drawing the last four. Villa have also finished below their near neighbours for the past two seasons, but go into this game tenth in the Premier League, three places and two points above West Brom. Despite Villa's poor home record of two wins, two draws and seven defeats at Villa Park this season, Lambert hopes a predominantly claret and blue crowd will give them the edge this evening.
Teamtalk: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert is expecting a typically passionate Midlands clash as West Brom's new boss Pepe Mel gets his first taste of a local derby. Wednesday night will see former Real Betis boss Mel take charge of only his second Premier League match when Albion travel to Villa Park. Speaking ahead of the match, Lambert believes the Spaniard is still somewhat of an unknown quantity.
Birmingham Mail: Ryan Bertrand hopes his loan spell at Aston Villa can help boost his outside chance of gatecrashing England's World Cup party this summer. Bertrand has four months to challenge Chelsea colleague Ashley Cole for a place on the plane to Brazil, with Everton's Leighton Baines, Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs and Southampton's Luke Shaw also in contention for the left-back slot. The 24-year-old defender, whose first-team chances at Stamford Bridge have been limited under Jose Mourinho, is targeting the Wembley friendly against Denmark at the start of March. "The short-term goal is doing well against West Bromwich Albion," said Bertrand. "But at the back of my mind you would have to be involved in the friendly against Denmark to have a chance of being involved at the World Cup."
Clubcall: Gareth McAuley is fit to return for West Brom's trip to Aston Villa on Wednesday but Stephane Sessegnon faces another month out. Northern Ireland international defender McAuley missed the Everton game last time out because of a hamstring problem which forced him out of the Southampton game more than two weeks ago. However, he has shown no ill-effects in training this past week and will come into contention for the derby clash at Villa Park if boss Pepe Mel decides to change things in defence following Diego Lugano's good performance alongside Jonas Olsson at the heart of the defence in the 1-1 draw with the Toffees. Sessegnon is poised to undergo surgery on a minor groin problem which has forced him to miss the last two matches and faces a spell in the treatment room.
Birmingham Mail: Pepe Mel hopes West Brom fans will be doing the 'Boing Boing' by the end of tonight's derby clash with Aston Villa-despite his poor record in such games.The Madridista spent four years as a player with Real Betis during the early 1990s before returning to coach the club for athree-year period from 2010. His last outing as Betis coach was in the 'Derbi Sevillano' against Sevilla in a game his side lost 4-0. Mel was also caught up in controversy in last season's 3-3 draw with Sevilla when he made a hand gesture following his side's comeback from a three-goal deficit. He is looking forward to tonight's game, knowing a victory will go a long way to impressing Albion supporters.
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BBC Sport: Manchester United boss David Moyes said the signing of Juan Mata and the return of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney has lifted the mood at Old Trafford. Van Persie returned from an 11-match injury lay-off to score in a 2-0 win over Cardiff, while Mata shone on debut after his £37.1m move from Chelsea. Rooney also came off the bench following a groin injury.
Sky Sports: Arsene Wenger admits he may have to bring in some new faces before the end of the January transfer window following a few injuries to his squad. The Gunners missed the chance to move four points clear at the top of the Premier League table following their 2-2 draw at Southampton.
BBC Sport: Everton striker Romelu Lukaku could face a long absence after injuring his ankle in the Merseyside derby. Lukaku, 20, was carried off during his side's 4-0 defeat against Liverpool.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.