Lee Dixon thinks Aston Villa and Reading have shown recent signs of improvement, but with both clubs struggling to win games then Tuesday's live offering could be a draw waiting to happen...
Aston Villa's goalless draw with Arsenal on Saturday confirmed my view that Paul Lambert's men are starting to find their feet under their new boss. True, the Gunners weren't at their best at the weekend in a game that saw Arsene Wenger come in for some criticism from his own fans, but credit must go to Villa who more than held their own.
A point gained and a clean sheet against one of last season's top four will help improve confidence in the Villa camp but my worry is that I just don't see many goals in this side. They have managed just 10 goals in 12 league fixtures as opposed to almost double that tally this time last season, and their leading scorers in the league (Darren Bent, Christian Benteke, and Andreas Weimann) have a grand total of two each!
Tuesday night's opponents Reading struggle to keep clean sheets however so Villa won't get a better opportunity to start finding the back of the next than in this fixture. The Royals have managed just one shut-out in 15 league and cup games this term, and that came at the Madejski. Away from home they've conceded an average of exactly two goals per game.
Unlike Villa though, Brian McDermott's men do have goals in them. Of those 15 games I mentioned they've failed to score on just three occasions, so you'd have to fancy them to get on the scoresheet again against one of the 'weaker' sides in the Premier League.
So Both teams to Score - available to back at 1.768/11 - is the first port of call, and with Villa managing more than one goal in a game just twice this season then the 1-1 scoreline (7.613/2) is worth considering for those who like a Correct Score wager.
But the best bet of the game is to back the draw (Villa 2.01/1, Reading 4.3100/30, Draw 3.613/5). With just three league wins between them (24 games played) I'm stating the obvious when I say both these clubs are finding it hard to win games. But as I've already alluded too, both clubs have definitely shown signs of improvement in recent weeks. It's hard to split them.
The Draw/Draw option in the Half Time/Full Time market is available to back at 6.05/1 and is another bet to consider.
The Tactical View: Michael Cox
I fancy Villa to get a win here. Their performances in the last three weeks against the two Manchester clubs and Arsenal have been very promising – even when they lost 5-0 at City, they did have a good period in the game. If you can battle that well against last season’s top three, you should be able to pick up a home win against one of the division’s weakest sides. Villa’s quick wide forwards should cause Reading’s full-backs plenty of problems, with Christian Benteke occupying the two centre-backs. Reading are too passive without the ball and might allow Barry Bannan time to spray the ball wide. Before I looked at the odds, I’d decided that I’d only back Villa if they were odds-against – so [2.02] is good for me.
The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson
I like Lee's shout for both teams to score. Reading have scored five in their last four away games (only failing to score at Anfield) and they are conceding an average of two goals per game away. Villa have scored in five of their six home games, only failing at the weekend against Arsenal. But goals against Manchester United, Swansea and Everton give me confidence that they can score against Reading. I will be backing Villa to beat Reading at approx evens but just have a saver on 1-1.