Anyone cursing their luck after being caught in snow or having to make unexpected childcare arrangements this week should spare a thought for Paul Lambert.
Having presided over, in his own words, “the most embarrassing defeat in the history of the club” against Bradford City in the Capital One Cup in midweek, Lambert’s Aston Villa side now face an even trickier looking FA Cup trip to Millwall.
In addition to their League Cup humiliation, this season has also seen Villa set a Premier League record in conceding 13 goals in two-and-a-half games, so they go into this game in need of a major confidence boost.
The visitors are priced as 37/20 outsiders in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with Millwall favourites at 27/20 and the draw available at 33/10.
The reason Kenny Jackett’s team aren’t bigger favourites is largely due to their drop-off in form at The Den after top scorer Chris Wood’s loan ended at Christmas.
They’ve only won one league game in five since the New Zealand international returned to West Brom (before a ₤1.5m move to Leicester) and scored just four times in the process, so a goalless first-half looks possible at 11/5.
The opening strike is likely to be key in deciding the first-ever fixture between the two teams, with Villa having turned 63% of their leads into wins (they are 11/10 to open the scoring) and Millwall, who have converted 80% of their leads into victories, 87/100 to break the deadlock.
With that in mind, lead-win looks a solid 57/100 shout in the run of play market.
In terms of who can give their side the lead, home hopes rest on Wood’s replacement Nathan Tyson (13/2 to score first), while Lambert will look for Christian Benteke to score first at 19/4, as he did against Bradford (an outcome we successfully predicted here).
Either way, both teams’ cup experiences so far this season (where there’s only been more than one goal between the teams once) suggests that a tight game seems on the menu and a one-goal win either way is 13/10.
But with Villa lacking confidence and having little recovery time ahead of Friday’s clash, I’m backing Millwall to pull off the upset in a game of under 3.5 goals.
This selection is available at 23/10, which would see new customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin land a solid £66 return if successful.