And so Paul Lambert’s perfect summer continues. As if getting a job at one of England’s historically superior clubs wasn’t enough, the invigorating effect the Scot seems to have on every group of players at his disposal doesn’t seem to have deserted him.
Aston Villa’s new manager appears to have given everybody at the club a huge lift and for once, the Villa fans can look forward to a new season with optimism.
Granted, after the disastrous reign of former boss and relegation specialist Alex McLeish it wouldn’t be that hard to create a feel-good factor, but Lambert is going about his summer the right way and a 100% record in pre-season fixtures speaks for itself.
And while the three wins have come against sub-standard opposition in the form of Burton Albion, Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire – certainly not the standard they will face in the Premier League, anyway – as the old adage goes, you can only beat what is put in front of you and so far Villa fans will be delighted with what they have seen.
The Timbers are bottom of the Western Conference and come into this friendly in bad shape. Interim coach Gavin Wilkinson has overseen a run of seven defeats in ten, including the last four, which have also seen 14 goals shipped by the worst defence in their section.
Because apart from anything else, winning becomes a great habit and the noises coming out of the Villans’ camp depict a happy group of players.
After rumours of unrest with McLeish (and Gerard Houllier before him), the club seems like a happy place for the first time in some years and as Lambert’s squad gets up to speed ahead of the start of the Premier League, there are signs that the relegation toil of last term will become a distant memory.
Next up for Villa is the final fixture of their pre-season tour of America against Portland Timbers in the early hours of Tuesday morning (4am BST) and I see no reason why Lambert won’t finish the 90 minutes with his 100% record intact.
Villa are 3/4 with bwin to do just that, with their hosts at 13/4 and the draw quoted at 9/4. This means punters backing the Midlanders with their free £20 bet upon registering with us will pocket a return of £35 if successful.
And if Villa are in fine form and good spirits, then the opposite can be said of Portland Timbers. It is difficult to tell if Portland will see this fixture as an inconvenience or a nice distraction from their poor domestic form.
The Timbers are rock bottom of the Western Conference of the MLS and come into this friendly in bad shape. Interim coach Gavin Wilkinson, an ex-New Zealand international defender, has overseen a run of seven defeats in ten, including the last four, which have also seen 14 goals shipped by the worst defence in their section.
It gives you no confidence Portland will be able to live with Villa, even if they are missing Gabriel Agbonlahor for two weeks with a slight strain, while Darren Bent is also on the sidelines.
At a decent price of 3/4, Villa have to be the bet to come back home to Birmingham with an even bigger spring in their step.
Recommended bet: Aston Villa to beat Portland Timbers @ 3/4
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