29th September 2012
The clash between Aston Villa and West Bromwich may not be too appealing to people outside the West Midlands, but football fans from the area will find the only match of Sunday’s programme a very interesting affair. Aston Villa are in a much more difficult position of the two teams, so the pressure will be on them to record a victory against the bitter rivals.
While the ten-match winless run at the end of the previous league campaign didn’t cost Villa the Premiership survival, the two opening defeats in the new championship hinted the team could be in for yet another difficult relegation tussle. Paul Lambert’s side then showed some improvement to bring one point from St James Park before beating Swansea at Villa Park, but the 4-1 defeat to Southampton acted as a new blow to the players’ confidence. The Villans recovered well from the major setback and managed ton eliminate Manchester City from the Capitol One Cup, and that was just the boost they needed before the all-important match against West Bromwich. Boss Paul Lambert has welcomed a new selection headache after Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann all produced promising showings over the last week, while Brett Holman is also in contention for a starting place after recovering from a knee injury. Goran Popov and Liam Ridgewell are injury doubts.
West Brom chiefs had made a bold move in appointing former Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke as the man to replace Roy Hodgson, but their gamble has produced great results so far. The talented manager was probably the one who helped Baggies acquire the services of one Romelu Lukaku, who proved crucial in team’s impressive start to the season. Home wins over Liverpool, Everton and Reading propelled the team to the top four place, while one point from visits to White Hart Lane and Craven Cottage can also be considered a decent return. It is highly unlikely the Baggies will be too downhearted by the Capitol One Cup defeat to Liverpool, even if they squandered a one-goal lead at their Hawthorns, but they will rather turn to the derby game against Aston Villa. The visitors will have to make do without striker Peter Odemwingie because of suspension, while midfielder James Morrison faces a fitness test.
With these derby matches always being intense affairs and referee Andy Taylor famous for handing out yellow cards like candy, I see a good value in betting on over 40 booking points. For those who are not familiar with this betting market, bear in mind that every yellow card is worth 10 points and every red counts for 25 points.
Verdict: Over 40 booking points
Best Odds: 11/10