A 3/1 Aston Villa win at Stoke would bust many an opening day acca, after the Potters’ clear dominance over their Midlands rivals during Mark Hughes’ first season in charge and the apparent difference in quality between the two teams.
While Hughes looks to have bought a number of players who will improve his squad, the only signing Paul Lambert has made that seems at all shrewd is Colombia World Cup holding-midfielder Carlos Sanchez from Elche, and he probably won’t play here.
The return of Jores Okore at centre-half is a boost, but bringing in Philippe Senderos, Kieran Richardson, Joe Cole and Aly Cissokho, while unexiling Darren Bent, Alan Hutton and Charles N’Zogbia, rates a high-risk strategy.
Stoke, who look fine value at 91/100 at home, have picked up a much more promising bunch in Steve Sidwell, Phil Bardsley, Brazil-born Slovakian centre-half Dionatan Teixeira, former Man Utd striker Mame Biram Diouf and much-travelled ex-Barcelona prodigy Bojan Krkic.
The player many thought would shadow Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou has excited the Britannia faithful with his pre-season form, but there are some key stats to bear in mind before getting involved in his scorer-market odds.
Bojan struck four times for Ajax’s title-winning team in the Eredivisie last term, and each goal proved to be the last of the 90.
He was at it again in pre-season, with two of three goals notched against Schalke, Real Betis and Blackburn ending the scoring.
The 23-year-old is available at 11/2 to do the same against Villa.
Having started as a sub more often than not at Barcelona, Roma and AC Milan, Bojan was thrown in from the off by coach Frank de Boer 17 times in the Dutch top-flight last term, with appearances off the bench coming on just seven occasions.
With that in mind, eschewing the same 11/2 odds on a Bojan first goal for a punt on the diminutive hitman rounding off proceedings looks the only way to play.