It’s been a difficult few weeks for Paul Lambert and his Aston Villa side, whose draw at Swansea City last weekend ended a run of three successive defeats that sees the club sit just two places and one point above the relegation positions in the Premier League.
Villa have been presented with the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways this weekend as they welcome Championship outfit Ipswich Town in the FA Cup third round, with anything other than victory sure to be seen as another low point in what is proving a tough season for the Midlands club.
The 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium meant Villa have conceded 17 goals in their last four outings, taking their total conceded this season in the league to 41 – more than any other side as relegation has become a genuine possibility for the club.
However, it won’t be an easy task against an Ipswich side that have been rejuvenated since Mick McCarthy took charge back in November, moving clear of the bottom three after losing just two of their last eight games.
Lambert’s men head into this weekend’s match as odds-on favourites for the win at 87/100, with the draw at 23/10, while a victory for McCarthy’s side can be backed at 27/10 in the bwin 3way football betting market.
The Tractor Boys were dealt a major blow this week as striker DJ Campbell returned to parent club QPR following a successful loan spell that saw the front man notch ten goals in 17 appearances for the Suffolk club.
They were also on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat on Saturday at home to Brighton & Hove Albion, who had been on a run of five games without a win, so their battle against the drop is likely to take precedence over the FA Cup tie this weekend.
Villa have shown glimpses of their quality in the Capital One Cup this term, seeing off Premier League champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and following that up with a 4-1 win against high-flying Norwich City at Carrow Road last month.
In Christian Benteke, Lambert possesses a striker who certainly knows where the back of the net is, with the Belgian having notched 14 goals in all competitions this season, including a brace in the unexpected 3-1 win against Liverpool at Anfield a few weeks ago.
Lambert certainly won’t want a replay to increase fixture congestion as his side struggle for survival in the Premier League and his players are likely to be sent out with the instructions to take control of the game as early as possible.
Had Ipswich still been able to call upon Campbell, they would certainly have been worth backing for a draw given the respective form of the two sides, but with their main goalscorer now departed, backing a Villa win to nil looks a far more attractive bet.
A 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 success for the Midlands club in the multiple correct score market can be backed at 16/5, while a Villa win to nil has been priced at 14/5, both of which are extremely appealing options.
While avoiding the drop is the main priority for Lambert, a win this weekend would give his players a welcome boost and although Ipswich have improved considerably since the arrival of McCarthy, the top-flight side should have more than enough quality to advance to the fourth round at the first time of asking.
Top bet: Aston Villa to win to nil @ 14/5