Villa searching for consistency under Gerrard
Aston Villa entertain Crystal Palace this weekend and Sunday's clash could deliver goals with the pressure off both teams. Steven Gerrard's hosts are in mid-table and will be hoping to leapfrog their opponents on their way to finishing in the top half.
Gerrard has guided Villa clear of any danger towards the bottom, since being appointed in November, but his focus will be on increasing the team's consistency next season.
Big decisions will need to be made on his playing squad this summer but the first one has been taken with Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho signing permanently.
Villa's 3-1 win at Burnley last weekend heaped the pressure on the Clarets in their race to avoid relegation. Douglas Luiz's early goal on Tuesday threatened to end Liverpool's title hopes but goals from Joel Matip and Sadio Mane edged the visitors to a 2-1 victory.
Palace on course for top ten finish
Crystal Palace have enjoyed an impressive first campaign under Patrick Vieira. The former Arsenal midfielder has instilled a more progressive gameplan at Selhurst Park which has been rewarded with a successful season. A run to the FA Cup semi-finals highlighted their development under Vieira.
Palace head into Sunday's contest following back-to-back victories which lifted them into the top 10. A 2-1 victory at Southampton was followed by a 1-0 home win over Watford which sent their opponents down to the Championship. Wilfried Zaha converted the decisive penalty for his 13th league goal of the season.
Hosts Aston Villa are narrow favourites at [2.12] for this weekend's match. Gerrard's side claimed a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace back in November but their recent form is unconvincing. Two victories from their last eight matches is a poor return and suggests Villa lack the consistency to be trusted.
Palace are available to back at 3.711/4 and that should not be dismissed lightly. The Eagles have won four times away this season including a stunning upset at champions Manchester City. Palace are looking for a third consecutive win and will fancy their chances at Villa Park.
The draw is trading at 3.65 and this has to be given strong consideration. Palace have drawn a league-high 14 matches this season but Villa have only been held four times. With only one point between them in the table, it would be no surprise if this match ended in a stalemate and this looks the best bet in this market.
Aston Villa have scored six goals in their last three games but Gerrard's side often concede plenty of chances.
Palace's pace on the counterattack, led by Zaha and Eberechi Eze, should cause the hosts problems and they can also get on the scoresheet.
Both teams to score, in a match with little pressure on either team, appeals at 1.84/5.
There could be mileage in taking advantage of Betfair's Bet Builder to inflate the odds in this match. John McGinn has scored in his last two games against Palace. Backing Villa midfielder McGinn to net with both teams scoring is on offer at 6.04. Another tempting option is to combine in-form Zaha scoring with both teams netting at [4.0].
Five of Zaha's league goals this season have been the winning goal of the game, including each of his last two. No player has ever scored more winning goals in a single campaign for Crystal Palace.
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