For Blues, it was a chance to beat their nearest, but certainly not dearest, rivals for the first time in six attempts. For Villa, it was a change to make it '7-in-a-row'. And for both teams, it was the first derby game of the season.
Blues kept the same formation that saw them beat Blackpool in the previous Premier League game, whilst Villa - the home side - opted for a negative 4-5-1 shut out. We all really should have seen what would happen in the next 90 minutes coming.
The game started off at a high tempo, but as it got further and further into the game, Sky were probably breathing a sigh of relief that they had not paid to air the game - (especially upon seeing the full time result of the tyne-wear derby!) For Blues and Villa fans alike, it was a game full of tension, but for the neutrals, it was pretty boring. Neither team had too many clear cut chances, and with the home side shaping up to actually play for a draw, it was pretty disappointing in itself.
To saw Blues shaded the first half would probably be a correct statement. Neither team really created much, which was the story of the game, however Blues pressured much more in the first forty-five minutes, and the home side didn't even have a shot of target, which really speaks volumes.
A derby game isn't a derby game without a controversial decision, and the closest the game came to controversy was near the end of the first half, when Nigel Reo-Coker - who by the end of the game could consider himself a lucky little boy to still be on the pitch - appeared to handle the ball in the area, after some suspect 'controlling' of the ball. No penalty was awarded, and not many Blues players staked a claim for a penalty, but on reply is does look like the Villa player handled the ball.
The second half was not controlled by one team in particular, but you could say Villa had the better of it. Nigel Reo-Coker subsequently got booked, and also injured Roger Johnson, giving him idiot status amongst the Birmingham fans - and of course, like the true soldier he is, Roger battled on to see the game out.
It seemed like there was too much at stake for either team to really go for it - the ones to make the first move were Blues, by bringing Cameron Jerome on to go 4-4-2, who made an immediate impact, bursting down the wing to almost sneak the ball past Brad Friedel. Some time later and Villa played their card: John Carew - who is apparently bigger than me and you (but not as big as Nikola Zigic) - who pretty much did nothing but win one header. Trump card made... trump card failed. Blues nearly won it at the death, but Nikola Zigic couldn't get the ball past Brad Friedel, and the game finished 0-0 - with Villa fans sneaking out the ground, and a small number booing. And they say they're not fickle.
For Blues, it was a relief not to lose and a relief that they stopped their neighbours getting 'the magnificent 7' victories on the bounce. But what also came out of that game for them, was pride. For 90 minutes, they stood toe to toe with their rivals who proclaim themselves as far superior, however after that showing, you can tell that the gap between the clubs is not as far as some Villa fans would lead you to believe.
For Villa, it was a disappointing result, which although they didn't lose, being at home and playing as poorly and negatively as they did, they will not be a happy bunch tonight. It was 0-0 today, but the deadlock must be broken in the Carling Cup, where the two teams meet at St. Andrews in pretty much exactly a months time. And Blues are ready now. Believe me.
It would've been nice to see Craig Gardner reeling off in celebration in front of the Holte End in the 93rd minute, but, i'll settle for a point. And that's what we got.