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Nic Ladds 9th Jan 2009 - 15:44

Baggies must tighten up to stop Milner

Tony Mowbray will be dreading this game as West Brom make the short trip to Villa Park where they are 8/1 underdogs in the betting.

West Brom have managed to score just three goals away from home all season while Villa have kept five clean sheets in their last eight games.

Statistics like these do not bode well for the Baggies and as a results Villa are available at 2/5 with the draw at 16/5.

Martin O'Neill will expect to pick up three points here as his Villa side continue their intrusion into the top four and will even go third if they avoid defeat.

The Villans have not lost in eight Premier League games having won five and drawn three matches in that period.

The scoring records of both teams suggest the home team to keep a clean sheet at 8/13 in the betting is highly likely as is Aston Villa to win to nil at 10/11.

On a more positive not for the Albion, they managed to win their last league game against an improving Tottenham side which can only boost the side's confidence.

Roman Bednar and Luke Moore both continue to struggle in front of goal. The pair are the most likely threat but seem to struggle with the few chances they get and as a result are 9/1 and 10/1 respectively to score first.

West Brom's FA Cup scorer was Jonas Olsson who is a massive 50/1 to score first or 20/1 to score anytime.

The best chance the Baggies have of penetrating the Villa back line may be from set-pieces as it is likely Martin Laursen and Carlos Cuellar will still be out for Villa possibly leaving them vulnerable from set plays.

It has been said many times before about how exciting Villa's front line is and Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young continue to frighten defenders everywhere with their pace.

The red-hot duo are 7/2 and 5/1 respectively to enhance their England credentials and bag the first goal of the afternoon.

James Milner who bagged two goals in the FA Cup and is greatly admired by Fabio Capello is a tempting 8/1 to score first and 11/4 to find the net at any point during the match.

It is interesting to note that the vast majority of Villa's goals have come around and after half time. This give the time of first goal market some interest and could be profitable with 41-50 minutes at 15/2 and 51-60 minutes at 11/1.

West Brom have often held out well for long periods of the game before succumbing later on and the same could well happen again.

The Baggies should have enough resilience to not get destroyed by The Villans but a loss is the likely outcome with 2-0 looking the most feasible at odds of 9/2.

Local derbies are always hotly contested affairs and West Brom would love nothing more than to do what they have never managed and record a victory over Villa in the Premier League.

Unfortunately for the long-suffering Baggies fans, it is unlikely they will get anything more than a sound beating at Villa Park.

Recommendations:
Time of first goal - 51-60 minutes - 11/1
James Milner to score anytime - 11/4

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