Two teams chasing automatic promotion to the Premier League lock horns on Tuesday night at Villa Park as fourth-placed Aston Villa entertain second-placed Cardiff. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.
"A punt on Both Teams To Score has paid out in five of Cardiff's last six games, as well as six of their seven encounters at the top-10, and looks well worth supporting once more."
Aston Villa v Cardiff
Tuesday 10th April, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Aston Villa in a slump
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce ripped into his squad after falling to a 3-1 defeat to Norwich on Saturday evening. The Claret & Blue boss suggested the players had 'let the supporters, themselves and the team down' in a poor performance that lacked ideas, energy and organisation.
A dour first-half was lit up just before the interval when the Canaries' Josh Murphy gave Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone no chance with a 25-yard effort. The second-half, however, was in complete contrast to the first, with both teams pushing forward in search of goals but it was Norwich who took control, grabbing a second goal.
Jack Grealish's consolation gave visiting supporters something to cheer but the Canaries soon added a third as Villa's automatic promotion were all but ended. The Claret & Blue remain in fourth, seven points behind second-placed Cardiff with only five fixtures to play and may recall Jonathan Kodjia to the side here.
Cardiff aiming to bounce straight back
Cardiff missed two stoppage-time penalties as they lost to Championship leaders Wolves in a dramatic finale on Friday night. An absorbing but unspectacular encounter appeared to be settled by Ruben Neves' brilliant second-half free-kick until referee Mike Dean twice gave the Bluebirds hope of rescuing a point.
After being bundled over in the box, Gary Madine saw his low penalty saved by John Ruddy. And moments later, Junior Hoilett blasted a spot-kick against the bar in front of a packed Cardiff City Stadium. It was also a demoralising end to the game for the hosts as they fell to a first defeat in 14 games.
Neil Warnock believed his team were good enough to have at least earned a point from the contest, claiming it was "one of those days when nothing seemed to go in". City may move back to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 system with Anthony Pilkington earning a recall, whilst full-back Armand Traore is available again.
Aston Villa have taken maximum points from home league meetings with Cardiff during the past five seasons but Steve Bruce's men will know they must improve their performance levels following a sluggish four-week spell (W1-D1-L3).
The Claret & Blue [2.32] boast an unbeaten home record when welcoming top-half teams (W4-D5-L0) and have only been beaten in five of their 38 Villa Park outings under Bruce (W23-D10-L5) so it's not particularly easy to oppose the hosts on Tuesday night.
Cardiff [3.55] have collected 32 points from their 19 away days and boast the division's best defence. The Bluebirds have W3-D3-L2 at top-half teams this term with both of those losses arriving before December.
With the visitors a mightily tough team to overturn under Neil Warnock and Villa more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the Championship's elite, the draw stands out at [3.35] as a sensible selection, knowing how much is at stake for both clubs.
Only once since September have Aston Villa failed to score on home soil and Steve Bruce's side have racked up an average of 2.66 goals per-game here over their past nine matches. Seven of those fixtures featured Over 2.5 Goals winners and a repeat is available at [2.32].
Cardiff's road trips haven't tended to be as fruitful for goals-based backers. The Bluebirds have delivered profit in only 8/19 (42%) of their away days although Neil Warnock's troops have provided plenty of attacking threat on their travels.
The Bluebirds have scored in all bar four of their games as guests. A punt on Both Teams To Score [2.00] has paid out in five of their last six games, as well as six of their seven encounters at the top-10, and looks well worth supporting once more.
Mark's 2017/18 Profit/Loss
Staked: 150.00 pts
Returned: 168.29 pts
P/L: +18.29 pts