Start slowly and finish strong. That’s all anyone said about Everton in the lead up to the new Premier League season. Well, they beat Manchester United in their opening game – how’s that for slow?
Aston Villa, meanwhile, must have felt like their season never got out of gear in 2011/12, recording just 38 points and flirting with relegation just two seasons after their third sixth-placed finish in a row.
The Midlands club were defeated 1-0 in their opening game against West Ham at Upton Park, but there were some green shoots of optimism appearing from the way they played. Most, if not all Villa fans will tell you that anything is better than what was served up under former boss Alex McLeish.
Saturday sees the battle of the Scots as David Moyes goes up against Paul Lambert, who is aiming to pull the former European champions back towards the top half of the Premier League.
Home advantage is so often a decisive factor, especially early in the season, but Villa Park has been far from a happy home in recent times for the Claret and Blues.
Villa won only four of their 19 home games in the league last season, scoring a paltry 20 goals in the process, and have not won on home soil since March 10th (Fulham).
However, they will look to the fit-again Darren Bent as the man who can restore their former glory and provide Villa with the goals they sorely need to improve their form at Villa Park.
Bent scored the opener in the 1-1 draw in this fixture at the start of the year and is rated at 5/1 to break the deadlock again on Saturday afternoon.
If you believe a draw is the likeliest outcome again, then the 9/4 on offer from bwin should be tempting, especially given the astonishing statistic that six out of their last seven Premier League meetings have ended all square.
Punters who feel that Lambert’s side can pick up a much-needed and morale-boosting win can back them at odds of 19/10 to do just that.
Should Villa wish to inflict defeat on Everton (which one would hope they do), then they must beware he of the big perm, the man otherwise known as Marouane Fellaini.
The Belgian terrorised Manchester United on Monday and after rising high and leaving Michael Carrick face down in the mud, headed home the only goal of the game.
However, it is too simplistic to suggest Everton relied entirely on Fellaini. There were numerous players who shone at Goodison Park that night and the likes of Phil Jagielka, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines will need to perform to a similar level if another three points are to be claimed.
With the constant threat of Nikica Jelavic up front, Everton will fancy their chances of claiming victory at odds of 7/5. The 23 points they accrued on the road last season suggests that whatever happens, the Merseyside club will certainly be no push-overs.
But I simply cannot ignore that record of six draws from the previous seven meetings, so this punter will be taking the 9/4 on another stalemate, while also throwing a wad of pennies on a 2-2 result, which has been the outcome in three of the last five clashes between the pair.
If you agree, then why not use the free £20 bet you receive for joining bwin.com to back a four-goal score draw?
Assuming the bet comes off, you could find yourself with a neat and tidy £290 to spend on whatever you may please, like a Fellaini wig made from genuine Belgian hair. No-one will beat you in the air ever again.
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