It may be a cliché, but tonight’s clash between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers is the definition of a relegation six-pointer.
A win for Alex McLeish’s men would likely secure their Premier League status for another season, while victory for Bolton would see them move within a point of safety and, crucially, just three points behind their hosts with a game in hand.
Against that backdrop, any goal will be vital but seeing where that goal will come from is as big a problem for punters as for both managers.
With Villa and Bolton having failed to score in 28 combined games this season, this might be an occasion where ‘no goalscorer’ is the best option and bwin offer 15/2 on no player finding the right net.
If there is to be a player to break the deadlock, Wanderers seem to have the better options given three of Villa’s top four scorers (Darren Bent, Stiliyan Petrov and Robbie Keane) won’t be in McLeish’s squad.
Villa’s frailties from corners and free-kicks means Bolton centre-backs David Wheater (9/1 to score at any time) and recent signing Tim Ream (11/1) could be cracking long shots for a small play.
Trotters boss Owen Coyle is able to call on top scorer Ivan Klasnic, whose nine goals include one in December’s reverse fixture, but the Croat is out of favour having scored just once since and is best backed in the last goal market at 7/1.
Klasnic’s drop-off has allowed Kevin Davies to reclaim his spot and though this hasn’t been the one-time England striker’s best campaign, he’s often been Bolton’s saviour so shouldn’t be counted out to get the first goal at 7/1.
Yet the real value might be in backing Martin Petrov, Bolton’s dead-ball specialist, against the side who’ve conceded more goals from set-pieces this season (21) than any other Premier League team.
New customers using the free £25 bet they receive when registering a bwin account would win £275 if Petrov strikes first for his sixth goal of the campaign at odds of 10/1, while he’s at to score at any time.
Similarly, Villa’s frailties from corners and free-kicks means Bolton centre-backs David Wheater (33/1 to score first, 9/1 to score at any time) and recent signing Tim Ream (40/1 and 11/1) could be cracking long shots for a small play.
In the absence of Bent, McLeish will look to emerging youngster Andreas Weimann (2/1 to score at any time) and thus-far disappointing signings like Charles N’Zogbia (9/4) and Stephen Ireland (11/4) to start pitching in with the few more goals Villa will need to stay safe.
Read a full Aston Villa v Bolton betting preview here.
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