It’s arguably the pick of the Saturday 3pm kick offs as Manchester City welcome Aston Villa. Roberto Mancini’s men will hope to put the Carlos Tevez saga to one side – at least for 90 minutes – and concentrate on strengthening their title credentials. Joining me to discuss their chances is Josh Bloom, with Francis Brian putting forward the case for Villa.
CB: So a clash between two sides who are yet to lose in the Premier League. City are presumably the strong favourites for good reason?
JB: I think so. The 33/100 odds on a City win don’t really make much appeal so I’m looking elsehere and I reckon they could put a few on Villa today. Alex McLeish’s men have yet to win on their travels this season and I can see David Silva carrying on where he left off against Scotland on Tuesday. Although City average three goals a game at home so far this season in the Premier League (15-2 for 3-0) I’d go for 4-0 at a nice 25/2. The metaphorical and very real riches at City will just be too good for Villa.
FB: Aston Villa’s team unity will be vitally important this weekend, as they must operate a tight system to cancel out Man City’s outstanding individual personnel. Villa often punish teams with fleeting counter attacks and have a body of resolute defenders. This attacking prowess and defensive solidity could see them surprise a few people and claim all three points on Saturday at 31/4 odds. However, it will be tough to keep City quiet for 90 minutes so a draw at 15/4 could be the best option.
CB: Villa have certainly been pretty resolute defensively and City are yet to concede at home so are we in for a snoozefest?
JB: What is interesting is that if you look at the spread of City’s goalscoring this season, a lot of it seems to come in the second half. Take City’s last Premier League match – all four goals against Blackburn came after half time. It makes sense: teams tire themselves out putting in the extra effort dealing with City’s attacking verve and it can’t be sustained in the second half. Not to mention the talent City have sitting on their subs bench every week! I see a quiet first half, with no goals available at a tempting 5/2. Mancini is a master of biding his time – even if it’s cagey in the opening 45 minutes the score could still end up being three or four.
FB: I think it could be much tighter over the piece. Shay Given will be absolutely determined to keep a clean sheet against the team that overlooked him for so long. Although the Irish international will have his work cut out, he could contribute significantly to Villa earning a hard-fought 0-0 draw at 10/1. The Villans have only been defeated once in their last seven domestic away games. This statistic proves that Villa have the credentials to compete against the top sides and therefore have nothing to fear at the Etihad Stadium. If McLeish instils belief in his players, they can match City’s millionaires man for man and come away with a 1-0 win at 20/1.
CB: Who would you be putting forward as the best goalscorer bets?
JB: I must confess I’m developing a bit of a man crush on David Silva! He’s such a talented player and almost single-handly carved open Scotland on Tuesday. Listen to opposition managers and all they talk about is how they are going to stop Silva. He’s geniunely feared by other teams. His pace, touch and finishing will cause Villa a lot of problems. It’s worth noting that James Collins and Richard Dunne are not the quickest centre-backs in the world – if I were Mancini I’d go with a pacy front line/wide men against Villa and Silva fits the bill nicely on that front. He’s got to be worth a punt for first goalscorer at 5/1.
FB: Well as I said before, I think goals will be at a premium in this one. But if Villa are going to snatch the points then look no further than Gabby Agbonlahor for potential match-winners. He seems to have rediscovered the form he is capable of after a torrid season under Gerard Houllier. The Villa winger has recorded four goals in his last six Premier League games and is at 9/1 to open the scoring against Man City. Similarly, Darren Bent should not be forgotten in terms of goalscoring aptitude. The Villans’ record signing scored on his debut against Man City and is 2/1 to haunt them again on Saturday with a goal at any time.
CB: OK we’re almost out of time here – any more bets you’d like to talk up the value of?
JB: Aston Villa to fail to score is at evens. It seems quite an obvious bet this one, but for me its a certainty. City have such a mean defence and three goals in three away games against QPR, Everton and Fulham is a pretty poor return for Villa. Hardly Premier League big hitters. Against Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany et al I think it could be a long day for Bent and Villa’s forward line.
FB: I’ve got a funny feeling that Villa might take the lead before being pegged back by a City equaliser to give them a share of the spoils. This outcome is at 5/1 in the run of play market, which gives more options to anyone who thinks a draw is possible but wants a bigger price without actually predicting a correct scoreline.
CB: Great stuff, thanks guys.
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