On this page you find betting tips related to Aston Villa.
May 10th, 2013 / Armchair Punter - Category:
Premier League Tips
Football – England – Premier League
Saturday 11th May 2013 – Kickoff: 1245hrs
Aston Villa entertain third placed Chelsea at Villa Park in the solitary Premiership match of this Saturday owing to the FA Cup final being played later in the afternoon.
Aston Villa have virtually ensured their Premiership status following some decent results of late which have included wins over relegation rivals Reading and QPR back in March and further wins over Stoke City 3-1 away, a 6-1 drubbing of Sunderland and last weekend’s 2-1 win at Norwich City looks to have prevented an embarrassing exit from the top flight.
These five wins from their last eight overall have lifted the midlands club into the relative safety of 13th place and the supposed 40 point threshold that guarantees avoidance of being relegated, but in recent seasons this point tally has increased so Villa need a further point I feel to absolutely guarantee their top flight status.
Aston Villa’s home record stands at a disappointing 5-5-8 22/26 but to be fair, current manager Paul Lambert inherited a very dispirited Villa outfit following Alex McLeish’s unsuccessful first tenure and it has taken time to rebuild the confidence. Villa have actually performed better on the road than on home soil in the last few weeks as their home form has been quite inconsistent. This opens the door here for Chelsea…
Onto visitors Chelsea then, and they’ve seen their position at the top of English elite’s league usurped by Manchester City as they find themselves now third in the pecking order of the Premiership. Nevertheless, despite Benitez’s expectancy that former manager Jose Mourinho will return to Stamford Bridge, he will be keen to ensure that his Chelsea outfit claim that final third vital position which automatically entitles them to Champions League football next season.
Retiring Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson pointed to Benitez’s constant references to his CV, so I suspect this will be his major aim for the last two matches of this season. The Blues are as I said in third place with 69 points but they’ll be very much aware of fourth and fifth placed Arsenal and Tottenham respectively, breathing down their necks to grab European qualification.
But Chelsea are in good form right now having lost just once in their last nine Premier league matches which was an unexpected 1-2 defeat away at Southampton, but wins over Sunderland, Fulham (in the ‘posh’ London derby), Swansea City and the big one over Manchester United at Old Trafford a few days ago puts them in a good position for automatic qualification of the CL.
Chelsea’s away record stands at 9-4-5 32/22 and they seem to have overcome their sticky patch recently where they lost three away matches on the trot at Newcastle United 2-3, Manchester City 0-2 and Southampton, with wins at Fulham and Man Utd and a draw at Liverpool.
In summary, Aston Villa have performed well against the teams around them in the division, but the visit of a strong Chelsea team may just be beyond their reach this afternoon. I’ll back The Blues to edge this one perhaps by a 1-0 margin.
Pick: Chelsea straight win @ 1.91 Betfred
September 30th, 2012 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
Aston Villa V West Brom
Sunday, 30 September 2012 – Kick-Off: 16:00 GMT
Live on Sky Sports 2
Just the one match on Sunday, and it’s an all-Midlands affair between Aston Villa and West Brom at Villa Park – where last season the Baggies secured their very first Premier League win in this fixture at the sixth attempt. The bookies, though, despite how this contest panned out eleven months ago, have Villa down as favourites – tentative ones at that, mind – although I’m not convinced.
Down the years Villa have had a stranglehold in this fixture, winning three of their first five encounters at home to West Brom in the Premier League. That streak was brought to an end last season as the Baggies produced a 2-1 victory, despite falling behind early on to a Darren Bent penalty (though Villa were reduced to ten men). A sign, perhaps, that the tide is changing in this fixture – if not, the fact Villa finished nine points behind their Midlands rivals that same season is; or that, even at this early stage, they already trail them by six points after making a dire start to the new campaign.
Indeed, Paul Lambert’s tenure as Aston Villa has been one to forget thus far. Four points from his first five matches at the helm is well below the lofty standards supporters at Villa Park expect – and demand! But it has been the manner of their performances which will gripe on many; they were abysmal in their first two fixtures, in which they carved out very few openings in losing 1-0 at West Ham and 3-1 at home to Everton – the latter defeat comprehensive.
They did improve ever so slightly to take a point away from their trek up north to Newcastle (1-1), before clinically dispatching of Swansea (2-0) at home. However, Villa’s resurgence of sorts was short lived as Southampton – who had lost their opening four league games beforehand – put four past Brad Guzan in the Villa goal in a resounding 4-1 reverse.
Next up for Lambert’s beleaguered side are neighbouring rivals West Brom at home, a fixture he dare not lose if he’s to avoid alienating any more of the Villa faithful. It won’t be easy either, as the Baggies – under the tutelage of Steve Clarke – have made a phenomenal start. They’ll kick-off Sunday’s Midlands derby in 6th, with victory for the second year running at Villa Park enough to see them move above Tottenham, Man City and Man Utd into third. As incentives go, do they come much bigger than that?
I will be honest though, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the work Steve Clarke has done early into his first stint as manager – he spent numerous years garnering experience as assistant coach to the likes of Gianfranco Zola (West Ham), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea) and last season under Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool. And speaking of his former employers, it was against the Reds with whom West Brom got the balling well and truly rolling – an emphatic 3-0 victory on the opening day a dream start for Clarke and his new charges, who would follow that stunning result up with a hard-earned draw away to Tottenham (1-1) before another impressive victory at home, this time against inform Everton (2-0).
Then the Baggies were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Fulham at Craven Cottage. It was then we started thinking that they might just unravel, but that wasn’t the case – far from it – as they dug deep in their next fixture, at home to Reading, to grind out a thoroughly deserved 1-0 win. Although yet again the three points were earned at home. So that’s three consecutive victories at The Hawthorns, maintaining their flawless record on their own patch. However, they’re still searching for their first away – but where better to pick it up than down the road at your nearest and not so dearest?
Whereas I’m not in the slightest bit convinced Aston Villa have turned any sort of corner under Paul Lambert, I am confident West Brom still have plenty of early season vigour left, enough to seriously challenge for all three points here. Their cause will be aided significantly by news that midfielder James Morrison, who has been instrumental this season, is set to shrug of a minor leg injury to feature from the start. The 26-year-old playmaker pulls all the strings in the middle, feeding the ball to various outlets over the pitch. Although he certainly isn’t one to pass up a shooting opportunity.
It was Morrison’s 90th minute strike which rescued a hard-fought point at Spurs, while the Scotland international could have bagged a hat-trick in the hour he was on the pitch against Reading last time out, yet somehow failed to net at all. So just as I’ll keep faith with West Brom’s early season promise, I shall do the exact same with star man James Morrison. At 85/40 (BetVictor) and 11/2 (SkyBet) respectively, I think I may have unearthed some Super Sunday value deep in the Midlands.
Match Prediction: West Brom to WIN @ 85/40 with BetVictor
Recommended Bet: James Morrison to Score Anytime @ 11/2 with SkyBet
September 28th, 2012 / callum - Category:
Premier League Tips
Paul Lambert’s first games as Aston Villa manager have been blighted by inconsistency in both performance and results. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, considering that he’s new to the job and because the amount of changes he’s made to the playing squad during that time. Heading into Sunday’s match against West Brom at Villa Park, the home support will be hoping that they see a performance similar to the one they produced in their last home match against Swansea as opposed to their most recent league game – where they capitulated in the second half against Southampton. Lambert and the supporters will be buoyed by the fact that they bounced back from that loss with a morale boosting victory over Man City in the League Cup. The 3-2 extra time success highlighted more of a resilience and far greater determination which will stand Villa in good stead as they approach what will be a busy period for them. Sunday’s derby against West Brom will be their first of six games in four weeks.
West Brom obliged for the column last weekend with victory over Reading which means they now sit in fourth spot after five matches. Their consistency when playing at the Hawthorns this season has been excellent and they have yet to concede a league goal at home, managing six of their own. There are signs, however, that they are not quite as impressive as they were earlier on in the season. I touched on their defeat to Fulham a fortnight ago where their attitude and discipline was questionable. They also lost out to a very young Liverpool side in the League Cup at hoe despite fielding a strong side. It’s now two defeats in three for Steve Clarke’s men and the tests become more challenging as well as more frequent. Their only other away match in the league came at White Hart Lane where they managed a draw after going behind – it’s a performance which will hearten the Baggies before making the trip across the Midlands on Sunday as it shows that they can recreate their performances at home on the road.
Before losing to Southampton at St Mary’s last Saturday Villa had went three games unbeaten so there are definite signs of improvement under Lambert, especially in an attacking sense. They looked toothless a lot of the time under both Alex McLeish and Gerard Houllier but Lambert has set about changing that and they are beginning to create a lot more tempo in their play, resulting in putting teams under pressure for longer spells. The 2-0 success over Swansea was the best performance of the season and a repeat of that will see them with an excellent chance of recording back to back victories for the first time under their new manager.
Clarke is learning all the time as a manager despite having been involved in the Premier League for over a decade. He will be delighted with the start he has made but it is just that, a start, there is a long way to go. There were more nervous moments last week in their match against Reading than there had been in their first two home games against Liverpool and Everton so there is a suggestion that the players are finding it a little more difficult to deal with the pressure that goes hand in hand with a good start. It will be up to the more experienced players in the squad to shoulder most of that expectation and allow the younger players to continue playing with little fear.
It will be both managers’ first experience of a Midland’s derby at their respective clubs and both have reason to be optimistic. West Brom proudly sit in fourth placed whilst Villa were impressive during their last home match. I seen enough in Villa’s win over Swansea to side with them on this occasion however – home win.
Aston Villa 6/4 @ William Hill
September 13th, 2012 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
Aston Villa V Swansea – Saturday, 15 September 2012 (Kick-Off: 15:00)
Betting Selection: Draw @ 23/10 (BetVictor)
It was in this very fixture last season whereby Swansea secured a landmark first away victory in the Premier League (at the tenth time of asking, mind!), winning 2-0 at Villa Park thanks to goals from wingers Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge. This season, however, it has taken them no time at all – a resounding 5-0 victory away to QPR on the opening day was the perfect way for Michael Laudrup to announce himself in the Premier League, and it would be fair to say he has loved every minute since.
A convincing 3-0 win at home to West Ham was to follow, before a 2-2 draw with Sunderland put a stop to the Welsh side’s impeccable start. The latter fixture was also at home and while many had the Swans down as favourites before kick-off, due to their blistering start to the campaign, manager Laudrup could not have been more thrilled at the final whistle. That was because his side battled gamely to earn a share of the spoils, coming from a goal down on two separate occasions, and were even pressing for a winner in the closing stages despite playing the final quarter of the game with a man less after seeing defender Chico dismissed late on.
That draw with Sunderland will have done little to dent the confidence of this Swansea team, which must be overflowing by now. Their wingers (Nathan Dyer & Wayne Routledge, the two scorers in this fixture last season) in particular have been outstanding, while Jonathan De Guzman appears a real coup in the midfield; his set-piece deliveries are sublime. So to see them priced at 23/10 here, when you consider that they are playing a team who appear to be drained of all self-belief right now following a retched start, is astonishing.
Indeed, whereas his opposite number must be thinking this Premier League management lark is a doddle, Paul Lambert is finding out the hard way why some of his predecessors found the Aston Villa hotseat too damn hot. Soundly beaten in their first two matches, away to West Ham (1-0) and at home to Everton (1-3), Villa dug deep to produce their best performance of the Lambert reign so far away at Newcastle last time out. It was, though, only good enough for a share of the spoils at St James’ Park, although Villa do at least now have a platform from which to work from; they’re no longer pointless first and foremost, while we now know that Lambert and his boys do have an accomplished performance in them.
While not spectacular, I saw enough at Newcastle to suggest Villa can build on the hard-earned point they picked up by registering a first result at home this weekend. Though by result I mean draw, as Swansea’s bubble has still to be burst and while confidence remains sky-high, Laudrup’s soaring Swans will remain a potent threat regardless of who they are facing.
So, Villa will need to have their wits about them on Saturday; they need to improve ten-fold on their last defensive display at home, which saw them ship three in the first 45 minutes against Everton, while going forward it is imperative they keep Darren Bent inundated with opportunities. A resurgence in form from Charles N’Zogbia would be most timely, while we may even catch a glimpse of Villa’s latest big-money recruit: £7million-Belgian Christian Benteke, who at 6ft 5in is an intriguing prospect to say the least.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-2 Swansea (14/1 with Skybet)
Match Odds: Aston Villa 7/5; Draw 23/10; Swansea 23/10 (Odds with BetVictor)
May 4th, 2012 / callum - Category:
Premier League Tips
Aston Villa v Tottenham
Villa need points to ensure survival whilst Spurs are regaining their form at just the right time so Sunday’s clash could prove to be vital for both club’s final placing.
Alex McLeish was relegated with Birmingham last year and he could have an unwanted record of being in the bottom three in consecutive seasons with city rivals. His connection with Birmingham meant he has always found it hard to appease the Aston Villa supporters and because of a horrendous season which has them win just seven times. It’s the second lowest number of wins in the division with Wolves, already relegated, the only side who have gained less victories this season. Villa’s problem has been that they have drawn too many games because they don’t score enough goals. Having drawn nearly half of their league games, they find themselves just three points off the bottom three and relegation. Their saving grace my well come in the shape of other teams just not being good enough but if it was any other season in recent years, they would be dangerously close to the drop – more so than they currently are.
Spurs have won their last two and those victories have seen them jump back into fourth spot, just one point behind arch rivals Arsenal. The fourth spot is obviously coveted because it normally brings with it Champions League football. However this season could prove different as Chelsea – currently sixth – are in the Champions League final and if they are successful, the final spot for an English team to compete in the competition next season would transfer to them as winners. It would be a devastating blow for whoever finishes in fourth should that be the case. Harry Redknapp and his players cannot think that way though and must just go out to try and accumulate as many points as possible. Redknapp himself was dealt a blow when he was overlooked for the England manager’s job which was offered, and accepted by, Roy Hodgson. The Spurs manager answered that in the best possible way by leading his side to an impressive 4-1 away win against Bolton. It means they remain in control of their own destiny and if they win both of their final matches they can finish no worse than fourth.
Villa with just one home win to their name in 2012 have it all to do to secure their own safety. Having scored just once in their last four games, and the second worst goals for record in the league, don’t even look a threat going forward. Injuries have robbed them of their top striker in Darren Bent but the replacements have simply not been good enough.
Tottenham would love to finish above Arsenal, a place they occupied for much of the season, but if you were to offer Redknapp and his player’s fourth place just now they would bite your hand off. A home game against Fulham will conclude their season but a win on Sunday would heap massive pressure on Newcastle.
I have seen quite a bit of Villa recently and they look so short of quality and lack any real desire at the moment. Spurs, on the other hand, are hitting form again and I think they will be too strong for their hosts.
My Selection: Tottenham to beat Aston Villa
Best odds available: 10/11 available with StanJames
April 6th, 2012 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
English Premier League
Saturday, 7 April 2012 – Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
They’re closer to bottom than top in the Barclays Premier League, with arch rivals Manchester United 24-points ahead of them in the table as the Red Devils close in on a 20th English league title, while there will be no Champions League football for a third successive season after failing to keep pace with the top-four protagonists. Yet Liverpool’s players WOULD NOT be forgiven for thinking the league season is effectively over.
Everton are above them in the table, so that in itself should serve as a motivation for the team, but there is even the prospect – a realistic one at that – of the Reds suffering the ignominy of finishing the campaign in the lower half of the table. The beleaguered Anfield outfit have won only one of their last eight Premier League matches, six of which were defeats, and have slipped to eighth in the table, one point behind locals Everton and just three above Norwich City in twelfth.
It could be worse for Kop boss Kenny Dalglish. He could be Alex McLeish, the man in the opposite dugout whose Aston Villa team are going through a similarly woeful stretch of form. And, after also winning just one of their last eight Premier League matches, are now considered genuine contenders for relegation. Villa are three places and five points above the drop zone, and what’s more is that they can barely string a team together right now what with so many key figures out injured (Richard Dunne, Stiliyan Petrov, Charles N’Zogbia and Darren Bent to name but a few on the sidelines).
Liverpool have an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on the horizon, but any thoughts of facing Everton in London will have to be put to one side this weekend, as nothing is more important right now than getting disgruntled fans back on side with a well overdue victory. And they should as well – earn victory, as they are playing a Villa side in dire straits whose team-sheet last weekend, in the 4-2 home defeat by Chelsea, consisted of half-a-dozen youngsters and very little in the way of experience or proven quality.
Still, I wouldn’t want to put my money where my mouth is at odds of 9/20 (BetVictor) on a rare Anfield win for the hosts, whom have won only a third of their home league games all season. It could, then, pay, in a match between two out of sorts sides, to oppose the form book and back a striker whose strike record in the league this term makes for dismal reading but produced one of his best performances in a Reds shirt in last week’s 2-0 defeat away to Newcastle.
Andy Carroll has made a total of 29 appearances for Liverpool in the Premier League this season, and yet his goal return is just three. It’s all a tad embarrassing for a striker that set his current club back in the region of £35m when they lured him away from Newcastle in January 2011. But for the first 45 minutes at St James’ Park, the misfiring forward was the most threatening player on the pitch, in either final third. Another menacing display like that could help him to a goal on Saturday – who knows, possibly even more.
There isn’t a team in the top-flight who get anywhere near the tally of goals that Aston Villa have conceded from corners (13), thus highlighting their deficiencies in the air. Most of those goals were shipped with defender Richard Dunne in the side, so without the Irishman in the ranks, Villa are even more vulnerable from the air. And as it happens, Liverpool have earned more corners this season than any other side.
So there is some logic behind our selection, with Andy Carroll backed to score this weekend at odds of 15/8 with StanJames. If the 6ft 3in Geordie doesn’t net, Martin Skrtel may well do so instead. The Slovakian, who is also stands in at 6ft 3in, is an imposing figure from set-plays and has four goals for the season, three of which were scored directly from a corner while one of which came in the reverse fixture at Villa Park in a routine 2-0 win for Daliglsh’s men.
Andy Carroll to Score @ 15/8 StanJames
Andy Carrol First Goalscorer @ 11/2 Bet365 (general price)
AND… Martin Skrtel Anytime Scorer @ 10/1 PaddyPower
February 4th, 2012 / callum - Category:
Premier League Tips
Newcastle v Aston Villa
Newcastle went out the FA Cup with a whimper last weekend but returned to winning ways during the week and will be hoping for more of the same tomorrow when they host Aston Villa.
Arsenal climbed above Newcastle in the table on Saturday after their emphatic win over Blackburn so the pressure is back on the men from the North East as they bid to continue their quest for a European spot. Alan Pardew’s men are by no means out the running for a Champions League spot which would have surpassed even their most optimistic supporter’s expectations. Their season has been built on a strong home run where they have been hard to beat. Six wins from 11 games at St James’ is not magnificent but they have only lost twice on their home ground this season. Without doubt their most impressive performance was the 3-0 win against Manchester United at the start of the year. The only teams who have managed to leave St James’ with all three points this term are West Brom and Chelsea so Villa will be under no illusions as to how hard tomorrow’s game will be.
Alex McLeish will probably be disappointed with his side’s league position thus far. Villa have struggled to maintain any sort of consistency this season and it has resulted in them being in the bottom half for much of the season. Having drawn 10 games already this season, you don’t have to look too far to see where they have to improve if they wish to climb the table. Away from home they have proved to be stubborn and have lost just the three games. Those defeats came against West Brom, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur which itself is testament to what it takes for the home side to get the better of McLeish’s men. In recent times their away form has been excellent with three wins and two draws from their last five away games in the league. The highlight of that run was their 3-1 success against Chelsea so the journey north will hold no fears for the Villains.
Demba Ba returns from playing in the Africa Cup of nations with Senegal and could go straight back into the lineup. The club’s top goalscorer may well be joined by his international team-mate – Papiss Cisse. Cisse joined the Toon Army before jetting off with Senegal in Janaury and the £10m man will be aiming to continue his excellent scoring record in January if he is selected tomorrow.
Villa were also busy in the January transfer window and brought in Robbie Keane on loan for 10 weeks. Keane is well known to Premier League defences and is already off the mark for his new club. His partnership with Darren Bent screams goals and with the European Championships firmly on the mind of the Republic of Ireland’s captain, he will be desperate to continue his good form tomorrow.
Newcastle are good at home whilst Villa have been very good on the road of late and their style is more suited to playing away from home than at Villa Park. If pushed, I think Newcastle may just have the edge with regards to the result but Villa draw too many games for that to be the percentage call. Instead, with so much firepower on show at both ends, there could well be a few goals.
My Selection: Over 2.5 goals
Best odds available: 10/11 available with Coral
January 31st, 2012 / Armchair Punter - Category:
Premier League Tips
Wednesday 1st February 2012 – Kickoff: 1945hrs
Villa Park is the setting for this next fixture which brings together two teams that tumbled out of the FA Cup fourth round in controversial circumstances, as Aston Villa take on relegation-threatened QPR on Wednesday night.
Despite that loss to Arsenal and Van Persie’s infamous elbowing incident, Villa can now turn their attentions to the Premier league and build on their solid form of recent weeks. Just one loss in their last five courtesy of a surprise 0-2 defeat at home to Swansea City, has been the only blip in their last five matches with wins over Chelsea and midlands rivals Wolves (both away from home) along with draws against Stoke City and Everton has consolidated their mid-table position.
Villa’s home form stands at 3-3-5 12/14, and another win at home tonight could see them within touching distance of an unlikely European spot. Irish journeyman and striker Robbie Keane has returned to Blighty and duly scored a double in the recent derby win at Wolves to open his account, while leading scorer is Darren Bent (8 goals, 1 assist), along with Gabriel Agbonlahor (5 goals, 5 assists) will be a constant threat to QPR’s defence.
QPR themselves will be looking to build on their recent home win over Wigan Athletic and put behind them their contentious loss at Chelsea thanks to a dubious penalty decision.
Chelsea scored, The R’s are out, and now they too need to focus on the matter in hand of avoiding relegation and making a swift return to the Championship. Manager Mark Hughes has been brought in and provided some much-needed impetus following the sacking of Neil Warnock.
But let’s not get too carried away; most teams have had a result over Wigan of late and who’s to say that QPR would have won this match anyway, Warnock or no Warnock? The trip to Villa Park will be a more meaningful test for them to see where they benchmark currently in the top flight.
The R’s away record stands at 3-1-7 10/19, and it’s now five matches on the road without a win and just one point at fellow-promotees Swansea City out of a possible fifteen. Five out of their eleven away matches have also ended up with Rangers failing to score, and with plenty of attacking options open to McLeish at Villa, this could again be a disappointing trip for the London side.
Mark Hughes has brought in new signing Nedum Onuoha from Man City and is lining up former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse before the Tuesday deadline but we all know it takes time for new players to gel with their team-mates.
Villa’s form has been solid in recent weeks and they should be too strong at home against a QPR side who do not travel well – Villa to win 2-0 here.
Main Pick: Aston Villa straight win @ 1.85 Ladbrokes
Value Pick: Aston Villa AH-1 @ 2.51 Pinnacle worth considering
December 26th, 2011 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
Stoke V Aston Villa
Date & Kick-Off: Monday 26 December, 2011 – 19:45 GMT (LIVE on SKY SPORTS 1)
Venue: Brittania Stadium
Opposing Stoke in their own backyard is a very dangerous game. You can raid your kitty whenever they go travelling, mind; but at home, at the Brittania Stadium – in the land of the giants, Stoke City take some beating. So it does kind of look ominous for an Aston Villa side with a strike rate of 1 in 8 away from home in the league this season.
Just one away win all campaign, which was a narrow victory at The Reebok over a Bolton team who at the time were propping up the league, on top of their frailties at the back, and you can’t help but wander whether there is any hope at all for Alex McLeish & Co.
Three of the previous four goals Villa have conceded, in recent defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool, came via dead-ball situation. Now that’s a frighteningly bad omen ahead of their visit to set-piece specialists Stoke, who are big and strong and beast-like in the air; in fact, over half (61%) of the Potters’ total league goals have come via set-plays.
Furthermore, it isn’t as though the Villains go into their live Boxing Day encounter in fine knick. Although they were victorious on their last away outing, beating Bolton 2-1 on 10 December, that remains their only success in six, having suffered d immensely during an excruciating period of fixtures against the top sides.
However, the fact they weren’t thrashed once does at least provide me with some crumbs of comfort; if they can restrict Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham to two goals and Man Utd to just one, teams who predominately attack with the ball at their feet as opposed to the air, Villa should fare better than many envisage at the Brittania – provided they can get it together at set-pieces.
This certainly requires an element of faith, that Alex McLeish has at least improved Villa’s aerial defending in an absurdly short space of time, but I’m willing to take a chance on a team who do defend stoically on the deck and do boast one of the better defensive records in the top flight, conceding just 23 in 17.
Backing Villa on the off-chance they might repel Stoke’s aerial bombardments is extremely precarious indeed, but a crucial factor in this bet is the return of top scorer Darren Bent, who should thrive in a team now boasting pace on the flanks, a team who gave in-form Arsenal a right going over before Christmas before eventually losing 2-1 at Villa Park.
Bent has suffered since the summer following the high-profile departures of wingers Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, rarely touching the ball in some games let alone find himself on the end of chances. He has been feeding off scraps – plain and simple. But that may not be the case for much longer, not if speed merchants Charles N’Zogbia, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marc Albrighton continue in the same energetic vein when pushing Arsenal close last week.
Against the top sides, Stoke set themselves up to defend in bulk. Against the rest however, teams they instinctively fancy their chances against, they aren’t as meticulous with their organisation, for the simple reason that they show far more ambition. I expect that to be the same on Monday, what with Tony Pulis’ men being the favourites and all, which will grant Villa’s attacking players, whom are gradually growing in stature and confidence, a lot more space and time on the ball to strut their stuff.
Villa should be a constant threat on the counter, in behind a strong and robust Stoke defence that isn’t the quickest; they’re no slouches, but they can be got at with quick movement and dribbling. The return of Bent is also a massive boost as it gives them a genuine outlet, a prolific outlet too, a player with a formidable reputation for finding the onion bag, something Villa have managed just three times in their last six league games.
Recommended Bet: LAY of Stoke @ 2.00 (Betfair)
Aston Villa to WIN @ 10/3 (PaddyPower)
Darren Bent First Goalscorer @ 7/1 (Ladbrokes) (He’s 9/4 to score any time with the same firm!)
December 18th, 2011 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
Aston Villa V Liverpool
Sunday, 18 December 2011 – 14:05 GMT (LIVE on SKY SPORTS)
English Premier League
My general rule of thumb with Liverpool is to never back them; they’re far too unpredictable and whenever I do back them, they rarely – if ever – come good for me. That is unless they’re facing the big teams, which in this case they automatically become tremendous value, regardless of who they’re facing, because they are always the team for the big occasion. However, their inability to rise to the occasion against the inferior sides is why they currently reside in seventh in the Barclay’s Premier League.
Victories over Arsenal and Chelsea on the road, as well as battling draws at home to the two Manchester clubs, are all well and good, but it’s the taken of points against the rest – the teams you are fancied to beat week in and week out – which wins your titles. Liverpool need only look to their fierce rivals United to realise this.
Draws with Norwich, Sunderland and Swansea at home are already proving costly. Kenny Dalglish’s side head into Sunday’s clash at Villa Park five points adrift of those coveted Champions League spots, and twelve behind the league leaders. So to go and lose away at Fulham last time out must have felt like a huge hammer blow mentally, especially as that same weekend saw all their rivals pick up maximum points from their fixtures.
Although they would argue their 1-0 loss to Fulham was undeserved, the result is all that matters as yet again Liverpool were left to rue a host of missed chances. It has been the story of their season so far: missed chances. Creating them has been a doddle, which isn’t all that surprising considering the mass amounts of creativity in the midfield. S,ticking them away, however, has posed a different problem altogether.
It says a lot about their scoring woes that rock-bottom Bolton have found the back of the opposition’s net more times than them, or that Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd and Tottenham have already soared past the 30-goal marker, yet Liverpool are still to break the 20-goal milestone.
Shockingly, main man Suarez is the one coming in for stick. And I have to say I agree. While there is absolutely no doubt he has been the star performer for Kenny Dalglish this season – arguably the player of the Premier League this calender year – I can’t think of a striker in the division who has spurned more scoring opportunities then he has – and a lot of those were gilt-edged.
Nevertheless, his own profligacy isn’t getting the better of him, as the resilient Uruguayan continues to stake a claim for the Man of the Match plaudits each and every game he turns out in. His perseverance paid off against QPR last weekend, when his header from close range found the back of net and earned his side their first three-points on Merseyside since beating Wolves on 1 October.
Now Suarez will try to drag his team, almost single-handily – as he’s done for much of the season, if truth be told – to victory on Sunday, away at Aston Villa, that would go some way to nursing the self-inflicted wounds sustained at Craven Cottage in their previous away encounter. Buoyed by netting his fifth strike of the season – and no-one actually knows how he hasn’t plundered more – I, myself, along with many others, are expecting him to push on and score with more consistency.
The question now is, will he score in consecutive league games for the third time this season? He scored on the opening day of the season, at home to Sunderland, before netting the second in a 2-0 victory at the Emirates over Arsenal the following game. Then he went three games without scoring before netting in back-to-back fixtures between 24 September – 1 October, at home to Wolves and away at Everton. He hadn’t scored for seven league games before finding the net against QPR.
Odds of 7/5 on ‘El Pistolero’ maintaining this bizarre scoring pattern of his, by netting in successive league games, looks stunning to me considering he will be up against a beleaguered Aston Villa in dire form and whom shipped two goals at home to West Brom and Norwich recently. Centre-halves Richard Dunne and James Collins, who aren’t the quickest on the deck, won’t know how to deal with this rugged and robust yet nippy Uruguayan with a seemingly unlimited amount of goalscoring potential.
Recommended Bet: Luis Suarez to Score @ 7/5 PaddyPower
Value Punt: Luis Suarez First Goalscorer @ 9/2 WilliamHill