Aston Villa v Leicester: Benteke can make the difference for Villans

Christian Benteke's return has been a huge boost for Villa
Christian Benteke's return has been a huge boost for Villa
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Sunday's 4pm kick-off is another 'relegation six-pointer' on a crucial weekend in the basement battle and Andrew Atherley rates Villa a great bet...

"Leicester continue to look there for the taking in away games and, with Christian Benteke back, Villa have a clear edge."

Recommended Bet
Back Aston Villa to beat Leicester at 2.427/5

Aston Villa v Leicester
Sunday, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports 1

Aston Villa

Christian Benteke made an instant impact on his return from suspension with the goal that secured a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night and ended Villa's nine-match winless run.

That moved Villa up to 12th in the Premier League table and gave them some breathing space over the other relegation battlers.

The injury list is still a worry, with defenders Ron Vlaar, Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker all long-term absentees. The latest concern is Joe Cole, who went off with a hamstring problem at Palace.


The Foxes were buoyant in seventh place after their 5-3 home win over Manchester United in September, but they have taken just two points from nine matches since then and have sunk to the bottom of the table.

The pressure appears to be getting to Nigel Pearson after his criticism of fans following last weekend's 3-2 defeat at QPR, and Leicester shipped another three goals at home to Liverpool in midweek.

To add to Pearson's problems, he is without captain Wes Morgan after the defensive linchpin was sent off against Liverpool.

Match Odds

Villa started the season well, with 10 points from the first four matches, but then came that long winless run

The difference was largely down to strength of opposition and, with the recent easing of their fixture list, they are now unbeaten in four.

Only three teams have faced more top-half sides this season than Villa, but now they are in a run where seven out of nine fixtures are against teams currently below them in the table.

They have started that sequence well, with four points from trips to Burnley and Palace, and this is a good chance to build on those results.

Villa have won their only previous home game against a bottom-half team (2-1 v Hull) and Benteke's return gives them a significant boost. That is just as well, as Villa are the lowest scorers in the Premier League with just eight goals, although a lot of that is down to the fact that Benteke has started only four games. 

It is notable that in last season's crucial clashes against other bottom-eight teams Villa won three and drew one out of four at home when Benteke played. 

Leonardo Ulloa seemed set to make a similar difference for Leicester judged on his early-season form but he has not scored since the 5-3 against United and in total the Foxes have managed just five goals in nine matches since then.

At the same time, Leicester have been unable to stop conceding, with only one clean sheet during their winless run of nine.

Away form is their biggest weak point, as they have lost six out of seven on the road. The exception was their early 1-0 win at Stoke, which was fortunate as they had only one shot on target.

In their first six away games, Leicester had just 12 shots on target - that was boosted by five in last week's 3-2 thriller at QPR but still they found a way to lose.

Leicester continue to look there for the taking in away games and, with Benteke back, Villa have a clear edge.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Under 2.5 goals is favourite at 1.834/5 but looks overpriced given that these two sides are co-leaders in that category (with Newcastle), having had nine out of 14 under 2.5 goals this season.

A significant factor is that both teams are poor at responding when they fall behind, despite being fairly resolute once in front. Five of Villa's six defeats have been to nil, while Leicester's equivalent figure is six out of eight.

But the difficulty of relying on such trends is what happens if a supposedly low-scoring team do get on the scoresheet - Leicester have bucked the trend in the past week in their 3-2 at QPR and 3-1 home defeat by Liverpool.

There is no denying, however, that under 2.5 goals is a touch of value.

Recommended Bet
Back Aston Villa to beat Leicester at 2.427/5 (1pt)

2014/15 P/L

Staked: 32 pts
Returned: 34.2 pts
P/L: +2.2 pts

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