When Frank Lampard struck a late winner for Chelsea at Aston Villa last Saturday, the Villans’ final-day trip to Wigan Athletic looked like it may be the definitive six-pointer for Premier League survival.
However, events since mean the clash at the DW Stadium is more about the ‘what might have beens’ than the ‘what ifs’.
The fact that Chelsea had as much trouble seeing off Villa as claiming the Europa League in midweek will have left Paul Lambert wondering where that performance was in their Capital One Cup semi-final loss to Bradford City.
But would Villa have traded cup success for a finishing league position which could be as high as 12th with victory at 12/5 on Sunday?
That’s the exchange Roberto Martinez’s side have been forced to take. Their incredible FA Cup upset win over Manchester City was followed by a defeat to Arsenal that confirmed they will finish 18th regardless of whether they win this game at 21/20 or draw at 5/2.
Villa’s young squad will be keen to continue a run which has brought ten points from the last 18 available and look good to open the scoring against the deflated Latics in the first half at 19/10.
With 19-goal Christian Benteke suspended, Lambert is likely to turn to near-forgotten England striker Darren Bent to claim the first goal in what could well prove his last game in claret and blue.
Unlikely to be short of potential suitors, Bent will want to show he still has Premier League class by bagging the opening goal at 7/1.
Those odds offer even better potential value with bwin’s special offer to pay out double or treble winnings should Bent then go on to score twice or three times.
While taking leads has not been a problem for Villa, the same cannot be said for their propensity to defend them, as they have dropped 24 points from winning positions this term.
And as they play for their personal Premier League futures, it’s worth backing Arouna Kone (6/4) or the in-form Shaun Maloney (2/1) to grab an any time goal for the cup winners.
But with the pressure off, I fancy Lambert’s side to put down a marker for next season with a well-earned victory, with their £24 million forgotten man setting them on their way.