Not the most exciting of viewing prospects for Monday night football, but the focus is on finding value, and that we will do. Both sides come into the game with contrasting recent league form – Villa have lost three on the bounce while Newcastle have turned a corner somewhat, having won three of their last five and their only defeat in that sequence being a narrow 1-0 defeat at high-flying, free-scoring Chelsea.
Personally, however, I wouldn’t be reading too much into this, as two of Villa’s three defeats were against Liverpool and Man City respectively, and prior to this, they were actually playing pretty well.
Before a ball was kicked this season, punters were steaming into Villa in every positive market including top half finish, top 4 finish and even numerous optimistic/kamikaze punts on them to win the league. With this in mind, fans are somewhat frustrated with their current league position, although their performances would suggest they ought to be higher up the table.
The complete opposite is true for Newcastle, who were in turmoil following Benitez’s departure and Bruce’s arrival. Fans and pundits alike were adamant Newcastle were headed for an inevitable return to the Championship, having been relatively comfortable the last couple of seasons.
While it’s still pretty early in the season, the moods of both camps are about as contrasting as their respective recent form. This is reflective of the shifts in prices for this clash, with Villa moving from odds on when the market first formed to their current price of 11/10.
The form book between the two sides doesn’t read well at all for Villa either – they haven’t beaten Newcastle in 12 attempts, dating back to April 2011 – though they haven’t met in the Premier League since an uninspiring 0-0 draw towards the tail end of the 2015/2016 season.
With this in mind, the obvious choice would be to lean towards a positive Newcastle result. Newcastle’s shortcomings are obvious – they don’t score many goals (only Watford have scored fewer this season). Their joint top scorer is centre half Ciaran Clark who has only played five league games, one more than the rather forlorn Brazilian Joelinton who has netted just once in 12 appearances, and is not exactly on his way to achieving Alan Shearer-like cult status among the St James faithful.
Defensively, however, they have been pretty solid in recent weeks, as any team who plays five at the back should be!
They’ve only once conceded more than 1 goal in their last 5 matches, the only anomaly here being the two they conceded very late on after being 3-0 up away at West Ham. I feel Villa will struggle to break down a stubborn and resolute defence, despite having a superior Brazilian of their own leading the line in the recently capped Wesley. Wesley has failed to find the net in his last four outings, and I feel he could struggle here again.
Which leads me nicely to my first tip of the game – Both Teams to Score – No @ 11/10. All signs point to a tight, tense, scrappy, drab Monday night affair with both sides being petrified to lose. In the last seven meetings between the two sides, BTTS has only landed twice, a 1-1 draw on both occasions.
I just see both sides cancelling each other out. Newcastle are rock bottom in terms of expected goals, while Villa aren’t a whole lot higher. And with Villa star man Jack Grealish still struggling with a calf injury, Villa’s creative juices could dry up on the night.
As far as match odds is concerned, it’s a very tough one to go at with any real confidence. Tipping up the draw would be putting all our eggs into a 0-0 basket, and nobody wants to see that! Tying in with the BTTS – No selection above, I think it’s worth having a wager on either team to win 1-0, which is fairly fence-sitting stuff and isn’t exactly the most riveting selection but that’s not what we’re here for!
Aston Villa to win 1-0 can be backed @ 13/2 and Newcastle by the same scoreline can provide an early Christmas gift at 10/1. All this said, no doubt the game will finish 1-1………….
One more somewhat noteworthy point from an otherwise unnoteworthy affair – there have been five red cards in Villa’s last 11 games in all competitions, and Newcastle have had a man sent off twice in their last six games.
With all the hullabaloo continuing to surround VAR, dodgy refereeing decisions remain prevalent and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a red card in what is sure to be a scrappy game between two struggling sides. Tempers could well boil over and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing a red card in the match at 4/1.