UK & Ireland Football

Draw on the cards as Villa host Blackburn?

Premier League RSS / / 25 January 2008 / Leave a Comment

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"Mystical" Mike Norman previews the one Premiership fixture hidden way amongst the FA Cup matches

It's not very often that a Premier League fixture is played on the same day as the FA Cup fourth round, but such was the demise of many Premiership teams in round three, Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers can be played this Saturday, rather than the originally scheduled midweek slot.

Villa will see this as an excellent opportunity to put down a marker for the remainder of the season by climbing into the top four, while Blackburn will be hoping to join the other three teams on forty points and move to joint fifth.

Form analysts will immediately look back to the last meeting between these two teams, when Aston Villa ran out comprehensive winners with a 4-0 victory at Ewood Park. When you also consider that Villa have won this very same fixture for the last three seasons (without conceding), and that they have lost to Blackburn only once in the last seven meetings, then the 'double your money' odds of [2.04] currently available about a home victory is very tempting indeed - Blackburn [4.3], The Draw [3.5].

Those of you that choose to ignore recent history between two teams, and instead prefer to concentrate on current form, will know that Villa are on an unbeaten league run of seven games (won three, drawn four), while their opponents have lost only twice away from home this season, and are themselves on a decent run (unbeaten in last five league matches).

Worryingly for Villa fans, club captain Gareth Barry is once again a major doubt as his pelvic injury is taking longer than expected to heal. Against Liverpool, Villa looked lacklustre for long spells without the drive and inspiration that Barry provides, and it was only when Marlon Harewood replaced Craig Gardner that they began to threaten.

Scott Carson will return in goal tomorrow having missed the clash against Liverpool because of an agreement in his loan contract, while Olof Mellberg will have his mental state assessed to see if he is in the right frame of mind! I'm guessing if he turns up for the game in his club suit he plays - if he turns up wearing a long white coat and only his slippers, then he gets overlooked!

Blackburn will also be missing their captain as Ryan Nelson has been advised to rest a niggling hamstring problem - Zurab Khizanishvili is expected to be his replacement. Turkish midfielder Tugay is an injury doubt having picked up a minor groin strain and fellow midfielder Aaron Mokoena is still away on African Nations Cup duty. I would expect Benni McCarthy to come back into the starting eleven, having made way for Jason Roberts last week, who was rewarded for his late winner against Bolton the week before.

Villa have gone 18 league matches since they failed to score, so a Blackburn clean sheet [5.1] looks highly unlikely. With the home side being the fourth highest scorers in the Premiership (42 goals), and both teams having the worst defence in the top half of the table (both conceded 30), then we'd be mad not to expect goals in this clash - 'Over 2.5 Goals' is currently [2.04], though I'd be very much tempted to go for 'Over 3.5 Goals' [3.75] and a little on 'Over 4.5 Goals' [8.2].

Despite what initially looked like a great opportunity for Villa to take all three points, the absence of Barry, and Blackburn's excellent away form, leads me to suggest 'The Draw' [3.5] as being the most likely outcome. In the correct score market, 2-2 is available at [16.5], while 3-3 is way too big at [85] for two teams that score and concede plenty.

Betfair have a wide range of markets for this, and all Premiership fixtures, so please take a look and feel free to leave your comments below if you have any suggestions of your own. One market that isn't available as I write is the 'First Goalscorer' market, but if Benni McCarthy does start, and I can get matched somewhere near [9.5], then he would be my token selection.

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