Jaymes Monte previews a huge relegation battle as Tim Sherwood seeks his first point as Aston Villa boss and West Brom look to pull further clear of the drop zone…
Aston Villa v West Brom
Tuesday 3rd March, 19:45
BT Sport 1
Two defeats from two games since arriving as manager leaves Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa staring down the barrel of Championship football next season. In case your maths isn’t quite up to scratch, that’s a 0% win ratio for the man who became so obsessed with such numbers during his time at Tottenham.
And for a manager whose biggest asset is said to be motivational, the fact that he hasn’t been able to rally his troops sufficiently in either of those two opening games should be a cause for great concern among the Villa faithful.
Saturday’s loss at Newcastle means it is now seven straight Premier League defeats for the Villans and 12 since they last won. Of those 12 games they have failed to score in nine, and only once since August have they managed to score more than a single goal in a Premier League match.
Team News: Ally Cissokho and Nathan Baker both missed the weekend game against Newcastle with knocks but could come back into contention here. Ron Vlaar definitely does return after serving a one-game suspension.
I must confess that I wasn’t wholly convinced that Tony Pulis would be able to galvanise West Brom and pull them clear of the relegation zone as he has done. The former Palace and Stoke boss was obviously going to have a positive impact on their defensive record, but I wasn’t sure that they’d be able to score enough goals.
I was wrong.
I guess at the crux of the matter is the obvious fact that if you don’t concede many you don’t need to score too many either. The Baggies have scored only three goals in their last three Premier League matches, but three consecutive clean sheets ensure that they’ve picked up seven points from those matches. When we also consider the 4-0 FA Cup win against West Ham it’s now almost seven hours of football since West Brom last conceded and a total of seven clean sheets from 10 games since Pulis took over.
Team News: Both Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye were forced off with injuries during the 1-0 win against Southampton on Saturday, and with Victor Anichebe also struggling with a groin injury The Baggies are left with limited options up front.
I see no reason why Aston Villa should be made favourites to take all three points here and would urge anyone considering backing them to have a serious rethink.
Perhaps the hosts have improved slightly under Sherwood’s tenure, although that much is certainly debatable, but to be backing a team at a price of 2.77/4 I’d be expecting that their most recent league win had come more recently than early December. And although West Brom’s best results have come at the Hawthorns they are at least unbeaten away from home under Pulis.
A lay of the hosts is an obvious play, but I’m happy to back the visitors at an appealing 3.185/40 and take huge chunk of value.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Given Villa’s horrendous goal scoring form, West Brom’s exemplary defensive record under Pulis and the possibility of the visitors arriving here without a recognised striker, Under 2.5 goals looks to be an obvious play. However, unfortunately, it is also priced as such and offers very little appeal at odds of just 1.548/15.
Although it’s not a price that I would like to get involved at, it’s certainly not a selection that I would be interested in opposing.
Instead, I’d suggest taking a look at the Both Teams To Score market where the No selection is priced at a much more appealing 1.748/11. It’s a selection that has been settled as a winner in eight of West Brom’s last 10 matches and nine of Aston Villa’s last 13.
If Berahino and Ideye are unavailable, and as we’re not expecting too many goals, then there could be some decent value in this First Goalscorer market. In particular, Joleon Lescott, who has scored five goals against Aston Villa throughout his career and can be backed to get the opener this Tuesday night at a huge 40.039/1.
2 points Back No – Both Teams To Score @ 1.748/11
1 point Back West Brom to win @ 3.185/40
0.5 points Back Joleon Lescott to score first @ 40.039/1
Jaymes Monte 2014/15 Season P/L
Staked: 86.0 pts
Returned: 85.78 pts
P/L: -0.22 pts