Tuesday 12th January Kickoff: 1945hrs
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Football – England – Premier League
It was another very disappointing day for Aston Villa on Saturday, as they were held to a 1-1 draw with League Two Wycombe in the third round of the FA Cup. Despite taking the lead in the first-half, Remi Garde’s men were unable to hold on for the first win under the Frenchman. It did not go down well with the Villa supporters who voiced their displeasure and disgust at the squad – both during and after the game. The anger is not solely because of that one game, rather a culmination of what has been a pretty disastrous season, to date. Villa have managed just one league win all season, and that came on the opening day of the campaign away to Bournemouth. Since then they have lost 14, resulting in them being cast adrift at the football of the table. With just eight points and 11 off of safety, it looks extremely unlikely that Aston Villa will be playing Premier League football next season – even with 18 games to go.
Alan Pardew has been in charge at Palace for little over a year and it has been nothing short of remarkable as to what he has achieved in that time. Not everybody’s cup of tea, the former Newcastle manager has guided the Eagles to seventh this season, following finishing in tenth, last term. One of the more incredible statistics is the fact that Palace have won 11 and lost just four of their 17 away game in the league under Pardew. It’s one of the main reasons why they are so high in the table and it’s also something that served them well on Saturday as they overcame Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s to progress to the next round of the FA Cup. It means they are now unbeaten in their last five away games in all competitions and will travel north to face Villa in very confident mood, particularly given the strife their opponents are currently dealing with.
Villa fans have begun to question the heart and desire of a number of their players following the draw at the weekend. Captain Micah Richards, who scored their goal against Wycombe, was involved in a heated debate with a number of his own supporters whilst the game was still ongoing. Football fans may be a fickle bunch but the majority will back a team, or a player, who fights for the cause even if they may be limited in ability. But it becomes impossible to support a team who they feel are not giving their all – and that certainly seems to be the case from the number of times I’ve seen them this season. That’s not to say that their problems lie solely with the playing squad, however, as there has been chronic mis-management of the club’s affairs for a number of seasons and it looks set to result in relegation to the Championship.
Relegation is certainly not on the agenda for Palace and Pardew, though, as they mount a bid to play European football next season. That may well be a step too far for them in the league as team’s bunch up behind them, but having been drawn at home to Stoke in the next round of the Cup, they are one several dark horses who could well make it to Wembley in May. There’s a lot of football to be played before then, however, and the manager will be hoping to build on the positive vibes that surround the club at the moment by getting another win on Tuesday. They will have to once again do without one of their key players in Yannick Bolassie who remains injured, whilst Yohan Cabaye is a doubt having picked up a knock in the win over Southampton.
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace Betting Tips
I think you can probably guess from the tone of my post the direction I’m heading in with regards to my selection. It would be hard to find two more polar opposite clubs at the moment in terms of structure and optimism. Villa have clearly been unable to deal with the loss of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph in the summer, and those brought in at cut-price to replace them have simply not been good enough. Compare that to Palace who have went from strength to strength over the last 12 months and show no signs of stopping.
Unfortunately for Villa supporters, I don’t see anything else other than more disappointment on Tuesday and expect their quest for the team to win in the league at Villa Park to go on. Palace have a system of how to play on the road and having picked up five victories on their travels, I fancy them to make it six here.
Crystal Palace 6/4 @ Bet365