Sunderland and Aston Villa have both been in poor form at the start of the 2012/13 campaign and with only a single win each to speak of in the Premier League, correctly assessing how their clash at the Stadium of Light this weekend will turn out is a tricky assignment.
This punter successfully predicted that the Black Cats would draw at Stoke last week, though it was hardly an ‘out of this world’ suggestion as Martin O’Neill’s men have now tied six of their eight league fixtures.
Aston Villa have not had such problems – instead, they have been losing games. Paul Lambert has endured a less than happy start to his tenure at Villa Park, losing five of his nine games and four of five away from home.
However, the late 3-2 victory over Swindon Town in the Capital One Cup in midweek could potentially be the catalyst for the Midlands club to improve their form.
They also have the advantage of having won more games in the head-to-heads between the two sides, having won eight to Sunderland’s six, and the Villans can be backed at 29/10 to record another victory over the north-east outfit on Saturday.
With new signing Christian Benteke impressing just as much as every other Belgian now seems to in the Premier League, Lambert has himself a real goal threat up top. He also has one on the bench in Darren Bent and it will be interesting to see if the England striker gets many minutes against his former club.
O’Neill, who is also coming up against his former employers, possesses a goalscorer of his own in Steven Fletcher. The Scot has already bagged five this campaign but he remains the only Sunderland player to hit the back of the net in the league.
And yet with Villa’s away record so poor, the Northern Irishman will see this as an ideal opportunity to record a rare victory and his team are 19/20 to do just that.
So after looking closer at these two, I am still no nearer to figuring out which one will grab their second win of the league season. This leads us to option number three: a seventh draw in nine games for the Black Cats.
Although Villa have eight wins and Sunderland six in the meetings between the sides since the formation of the Premier League, nine of their clashes have been draws, including both games last season.
Clearly, the record of the home side leads to the assumption that they will continue to experience mostly stalemates and as Villa are struggling for wins but will still have some confidence from their midweek triumph, a draw at 23/10 feels like the way to go.
Villa and Sunderland fans, feel free to disagree.