Villa in for a derby disaster - West Brom v Aston Villa preview
Aston Villa are desperate to start picking up points and this weekend's clash with their West Midlands neighbours at the Hawthorns would be the perfect place to start.
The tables have been turned somewhat with West Brom going into the game as odds on favourites for the first time in years. Indeed as Villa have been dropping points the Baggies have found themselves in the top half of the table after their best ever start to a Premier League campaign.
Since then Steve Clarke's side have been on a baron run, have lost their last two home games to Fulham and Queens Park Rangers and last weekend capitulated from two goals up in the final 8 minutes to Reading, to lose 3-2.
Good news for Clarke however could be the return of strikers Shane Long (dead leg) and Marc-Antoine Fortune (hamstring) to boost his options. Long has been out since the beginning of December and will be eager to add to his 8 goals this term. We have him at 9/2 to score the first/last goal and 6/5 to score at anytime in the match.
Top scorer for the Baggies is Romelu Lukaku with 9 strikes and we go 7/2 first/last, 10/11 anytime. We have an enhanced wincast offer on Lukaku and if he scores in a West Brom win we will offer you 2/1.
Peter Odemwingie has found he target on four occasions for the Baggies this term and we are a very competitive 11/2 first/last, 6/4 anytime.
The Baggies have picked up 34 yellow cards this term but had only 1 sent off (Odemwingie) so a bet on the card markets maybe the way to go here. Over 3 West Brom cards could be tempting at 13/2 and West Brom to pick up the most bookings at 11/5.
With Villa's tendency to ship a few goals per game, four or more West Brom goals at 7/1 would keep the game interesting. If you fancy those goals to come in the first half we will give you 18/1.
Aston Villa have the impending second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final looming on Tuesday and could be distracted by that. The main aim this season is now Premier League survival so they won't be resting anyone!
If Villa are to have any chance of avoiding the drop they will need to keep their top scorer firing. Christian Benteke (15/2 first/last, 9/4 anytime) has banged in 9 goals so far this season and he is also part of our Headline Offer; Christian Benteke to Score and Aston Villa to win enhanced to 8/1.
His main rival for the top scorer honours is Andreas Weimann (9/1 first/last 10/3 anytime) who has found the net on 8 occasions this season in all competitions.
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert is set to welcome Villans captain Ron Vlaar (33/1 first/last, 12/1 anytime) back into his starting line-up. The Dutchman had been out of action for seven weeks but was on the bench for Villa's 1-0 defeat to Southampton last weekend. Full-back Joe Bennett (50/1 first/last, 20/1 anytime) is also in contention. Darren Bent (8/1 first/last, 11/4 anytime) faces a late fitness test.
Lambert's youthful side have shipped 22 goals in seven matches and yet to keep a clean sheet since shutting out Stoke City in early December. Villa are struggling for goals as well, finding the net just four times in seven games. With this in mind the 19/10 available for West Brom to win to nil looks like value.
The head to head stats don't make pleasant reading for Villa either. After winning none of the first nine Premier League meetings with Villa (W0 D4 L5), West Brom are unbeaten in their last four (W2 D2 L0). Aston Villa have won just one of their last 12 Midlands derbies. (W1 D8 L3) since they beat West Brom in December 2010.
Christian Benteke to Score and Aston Villa to Win enhanced to 8/1
Lukaku to score and West Brom to Win enhanced to 2/1
Worth a punt:
West Brom to score 4 or more goals @ 15/2
Over 3 West Brom Cards @ 13/2