We’ve all received some bad Christmas presents, from that pair of grey socks to a second-hand mattress cover (cheers Dad!), but it’s hard to top the ‘gifts’ that Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic have given their fans over the festive period.
The Holte End faithful have been ‘treated’ to a 4-0 home thrashing by Tottenham hot on the heels of a record 8-0 beating by Chelsea over the past week, while Christmas for Latics followers coincided with a run of three straight defeats for their team.
With both sides in shocking form ahead of their meeting at Villa Park on Saturday, it’s tough to pick a winner and the bwin bookmakers have the home side as narrow favourites at 13/10, with the draw at 11/5 and a Wigan win at 21/10.
But delving a bit deeper, there are reasons for Claret & Blue fans to be cheerful ahead of 2013.
Before their recent hammerings by Champions League contenders Chelsea and Spurs, Villa pulled off one of their best results of 2012 with a 3-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield.
That game was the fifth in all competitions this term that the League Cup semi-finalists have struck three or more goals and against a defence as porous as Wigan’s (conceding an average of two per away game), Villa can again strike at least twice at 5/4.
The much-lauded Christian Benteke will carry much of that goal threat and can help Villa claim a first-half opening goal at 27/20 with his 13th strike of the season for club and country.
Villa always look a much better side when they get the opening goal, so 13/5 looks good value for the home team to turn a half-time lead into three points for the seventh time this season.
That’s exactly what they did in this fixture last season, when a first-half Gabby Agbonlahor strike was followed by Darren Bent’s second-half clincher for a 2-0 victory.
Should Villa pull off a repeat performance, new customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin would win a nice new year’s bonus of £210.05.
Yet that was only the second time in their last eight meetings that more than one goal has separated the sides and another tight game won by a single goal either way is 5/4.
But with a youthful Villa side more likely to be able to escape their slump than a Wigan team who normally don’t really start playing until March, I’m going with the home side to end the year on a high by backing a draw in the 0-1 handicap market at 14/5.