This should be fairly straightforward given the sides were playing at a similar level last year, retain the same managers and their philosophies haven’t changed. Except one side has added goals and the other has not.
Their respective results to date are a little flattering, too. Well, in saying that – Fulham’s opening day demolition at the hands of Arsenal is probably a fair reflection of just where they are as a unit. But Villa’s 1-0 win over Sheffield United can be taken with a huge pinch of salt given that they didn’t create a tonne from open play, and were aided by a ridiculous refereeing decision to send John Egan off.
They totalled 18 shots indeed, but only two of them were on target, including the winning penalty. While some of this can be put down to the fact that Sheffield United put ten behind the ball, it’s worth noting there’s very little in the way of imagination from midfield.
Fulham’s goal tally also needs contextualising, though. Each of them were consolation-like at the time of scoring – with no real pressure on them to do so.
If both sides lack creative flow, these games take on even more importance. Here are your three best bets for an early-season six-pointer.
When it comes down to it, one of these secured a long-term goals return and the other is still relying on Aleksandar Mitrovic – a striker they generally are trying to move on from because he’s one-dimensional. When someone who was deemed an afterthought, or a last option in pre-season, becomes your genuine goalscoring threat, something has gone wrong.
Watkins on the other hand is the link-up that top-end sides crave – he’s an excellent hold-up player, he’s got pace and he’s clever. Not a bad finisher either, is he? Watkins reminds me of Lukaku and if Villa can get even half of his production, then they’ve enough about them to stay up.
It’s a bit of a trend this season, isn’t it? The Premier League is seeing a massive amount of goals per game and it’s hardly doing their marketing any harm. Perhaps the reason is because of the lack of supporters that both control the tempo of a game with their noise levels and enthusiasm. Now, teams focus more on what they did earlier in the week at training.
This game in particular smacks of one where both teams know they can win it – and in Fulham’s case, probably need to.
Those two factors combining should see both go at each other from the first whistle and Over 3.5 goals.
These clubs faced off in the 2018 Championship Playoff Final, which went the way of the London club after a sole Tom Cairney strike.
Denis Odoi saw red that day in what was an ill-tempered, high octane 90 minutes. That familiarity breeds contempt, especially in a game now where the stakes are already unnecessarily high this early in the season.
That familiarity is retained too, especially among the Fulham squad. The only players from their starting XI that day who no longer belong to the club are Ryan Sessegnon, Ryan Fredericks and Matt Targett – who’s a Villa player.
You can sense the bite, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one spillover and for a red card to be shown.
27/1 Same Game Multi for Fulham v Aston Villa on Monday at 17:45
These three selections in a Same Game Multi will give you odds of around 27/1 with Paddy.
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