Aston Villa v Man United
Thursday 9 July, 20:15
Live on Sky Sports
Now or never for the Villa
The situation is starting to become dire for Aston Villa, as Watford's win over Norwich on Tuesday leaves them four points adrift of safety. Obviously that isn't an insurmountable deficit - and West Ham also have 31 points - but Villa don't look like winning at present.
Dean Smith's men were in really poor form and dropping like a stone pre-lockdown, and while their performances have improved since the restart, they have taken just two points from a possible 15.
Scoring goals has become a real issue for Villa - just two in their last five games - but they have at least tightened up at the back, conceding only six times during that period, when beforehand they had been shipping nearly two per match.
Mbwana Samatta had been relatively impressive since his move from Genk, but he's not done much lately, and he has a point to prove here - assuming he is restored to the starting XI.
Ole has his attack purring
It is still far too early to suggest that Manchester United are back, but they are definitely slipping back into a familiar groove.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has unleashed his front three of Martial, Greenwood and Rashford, and with Fernandes in midfield with a returning Paul Pogba, they have put in some devastating performances since the end of lockdown.
United put five past Bournemouth at the weekend, and that came on the back of a 3-0 win at Brighton. They are also through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and they beat Sheffield United by three goals to nil too.
The manager will still be concerned about how easy the Cherries got through the defence at Old Trafford, but things are certainly looking a lot better than they did at one point this season.
Take a chance on a shock
Aston Villa are available to back at 10.519/2, and on current form, it's not difficult to see why. Their last victory in any competition was their League Cup semi against Leicester on January 28th, and their last win in the league was against Watford on January 21.
An away win is the clear favourite at 1.364/11, but I have reservations about that given how many false dawns United have had since Alex Ferguson retired.
They required extra time to beat Norwich at Carrow Road in the cup, and they have actually lost more Premier League games than they have won away from home in the league this term.
The draw is the other option in the Match-Odds market, with it currently trading at around the 5.69/2 mark. A point doesn't do much for either team though, so I'm not willing to back it when the two of them will be going all out for a winner if it's level, late-on.
I might be losing my mind slightly, but I think there is value to be had in Aston Villa to win and both teams to score. If Jack Grealish can put in a performance, and Samatta regains his goal-touch, the hosts could give this United defence something to think about.
It is available to back at 21.020/1 on the Betfair Exchange, and I think it might be worth a small punt. Strange things can happen when clubs are fighting to survive at the end of a season.
Goals favoured but beware the stats
Over 2.5 Goals is the favourite in the popular goal market, with the price around the 1.728/11 mark. The Under is 2.3411/8.
Clearly I am favouring a high-scoring affair given my selection so far, but I wouldn't be rushing to back it on its own at the current odds.
Overs backers would have only collected in one of Villa's five matches since the resumption, with three of United's five following suit.
2019/20 P/L (1pt each bet)