Aston Villa moved out of the bottom three and two points clear of the relegation places last Saturday courtesy of an impressive 3-1 win away at fellow strugglers Stoke City, giving Paul Lambert’s side a major boost in their bid to beat the drop.
It was their third victory in four Premier League matches, having secured vital wins over Reading and QPR before a narrow 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool on Easter Sunday – a game in which they will count themselves unlucky not to have gained at least a point.
Next up is the visit of Fulham, who saw their run of five league games without a loss brought to an end at the very death away at Newcastle on Sunday afternoon, as Papiss Cisse pounced in injury time to secure a 1-0 win for the Magpies.
The Cottagers currently occupy tenth spot, eight points above the drop zone with a game in hand on most of the sides below them, with their Premier League survival all but secure given there appears to be just one more relegation spot to be decided.
It’s the hosts that have been priced as favourites to secure back-to-back wins and move further away from trouble at 6/5, with the draw at 11/5 and Fulham at 23/10 to put last weekend’s defeat firmly behind them by collecting all three points at Villa Park.
It was a tight encounter when the sides met at Craven Cottage earlier in the season as a Chris Baird strike five minutes from time proved the decisive goal as Fulham ran out 1-0 victors, ending a run of six games without a win against the Midlands club.
Another low-scoring match this time around looks unlikely, with 14 of the 16 matches following Villa’s goalless draw at home to Stoke back in mid-December involving at least three goals, so over 2.5 goals at 91/100 should not be ignored.
The match also sees two of the league’s in-form strikers come head-to-head, with the home side’s Belgian international Christian Benteke having notched 15 league goals this term, while Dimitar Berbatov has found the net 13 times for the Londoners.
Benteke, who has scored in each of his last four outings, can be backed at 7/5 to notch at any time, with Berbatov, who has five in five and opened the proceedings in four of those games, looking a great price at 13/2 to score the first goal of the game.
Trips to Villa Park haven’t proved very fruitful for Fulham since they gained promotion to the Premier League in 2001, as they’ve failed to win on any of their last 11 visits, losing on seven of those occasions.
In fact, the Cottagers have a far from enviable record on their travels since moving up to the top flight, securing maximum points just 33 times in the 244 games they have played on the road since, with three of those coming this term.
With this in mind, and the fact that Villa are on a good run of form and fighting for their survival while their visitors sit fairly comfortably in mid-table, a home win in a match involving over 2.5 goals combined looks a great bet at 13/5.
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