Aston Villa have been in slightly improved form of late, and this weekend they head to West Brom for a Midlands derby. Luke Moore takes a look...
"Inexperienced referee Robert Madley absolutely loves awarding penalties in the Premier League - he's refereed 15 games this season and pointed to the spot no less than ten times."
West Brom v Aston Villa
Saturday January 23, 15:00
Tony Pulis' West Brom side are safely ensconced in mid-table and aren't in any immediate danger of having to look over their shoulder anytime soon. One thing that'll undoubtedly be keeping Pulis up at night though is his side's propensity to concede goals - the man prides himself on his team's defensive solidity.
But just one clean sheet in their last ten games tells its own story and Pulis needs to address their rearguard issues pretty quickly, and there's no better place to start than in a local derby. The charismatic Welshman at the helm also needs to address the swirling gossip around the future of problem-striker Saido Berahino who, despite scoring 20 goals in all competitions last season, has barely featured in the past two months due to a perceived attitude problem.
The most generous thing that can be said for Aston Villa at this stage is that, while a few weeks ago all was black, there is the slightest chink of light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. Four points from their last two games in the league and an FA Cup win means there might finally be something to cheer at Villa Park.
However, the Villans are far from on a roll and still find themselves ten points from safety with just 16 league games left. The first of those 16 comes against an old enemy away from home and Remi Garde and his men will need to be on their best form to secure their first away win since the opening day of the season.
Jordan Amavi, Adama Traore and Alan Hutton all miss the game through injury.
The home side are 2.166/5 favourites for this game, and that's understandable. For all their faults, Albion are a much better team overall than Villa who are clearly still the worst team in the division. I'd be tempted to say that Garde's men are slowly building up a bit of momentum and could do something here, but I remain unconvinced of that currently. The price of 4.1 on them to win this game doesn't tempt me.
The Draw is available at 3.412/5.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Opta tell us that the average amount of goals in this game is 2.47, almost exactly on the 2.5 goal threshold. There's a huge discrepancy in the odds in this market though - Unders is priced at just 1.618/13 and Overs 2.526/4. Punters are obviously expecting a nip-and-tuck affair.
For me, Aston Villa are clearly getting into must-win territory now. They have several games left that will be very hard for them to get anything out of, and so games such as this have to be targeted. I wouldn't be surprised if Garde's side came at West Brom and tried to take advantage of their lack of solidity.
The Baggies concede way over a goal a game so far this season and Villa are just utterly dreadful at the back. I wouldn't be surprised to see goals, and at the price Overs is well worth a back.
Inexperienced referee Robert Madley absolutely loves awarding penalties in the Premier League - he's refereed 15 games this season and pointed to the spot no less than ten times. In a game such as this, the stakes and emotions are sure to be high. It's an absolute no-brainer to have a small stakes play on a penalty being taken on Saturday afternoon at The Hawthorns. 5.04/1 or better is the price to take.
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.526/4
Back Yes in Penalty Taken? market at 5.04/1
Luke Moore Premier League 15/16 P/L