If new Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish had been asked at the start of the season to pick the team he would most like to face at home if under pressure to secure all three points, the chances are he would have chosen Norwich.
However, the respective form of the two teams in the opening weeks of the season means Villa are far from assured of victory when they host the Canaries on Saturday.
This is despite the fact that McLeish’s side are odds-on at 4/5 to win the fixture, with the draw and Norwich victory looking far more attractively priced at 12/5 and 7/2 respectively.
For while Norwich have surprised many with the manner in which they have taken to the top flight, picking up 11 points from their last six games alone, Villa, of whom far more was expected this season, have secured only six points in the same time frame.
And with their only league wins this season coming against teams in the relegation zone in Blackburn and Wigan, it appears difficult to justify Villa’s status as odds-on favourites.
In fact, of all the results in bwin’s 3Way football betting market it is the draw that looks the most likely.
Although they have struggled to pick up wins, Villa have at least proven difficult to beat, as shown by a tally of six wins from their ten games so far this season, while Norwich have drawn their last two.
However, the best bet could yet be on Norwich to exploit Aston Villa’s vulnerability from set plays and claim all three points.
McLeish prescribed extra training on defending set pieces in the aftermath of Villa’s 4-1 loss to Manchester City on 15th October, but the extra work did not help as his side conceded twice from corners in their next match against West Brom.
The trend continued in Villa’s match against Sunderland, when the Black Cats’ equaliser a minute from time came via a Stephane Sessegnon header from a Seb Larsson free kick.
Norwich, on the other hand, have proved particularly dangerous from dead ball situations, with three goals scored from set pieces in their last six matches.
Grant Holt’s penalty equaliser against Blackburn last weekend also came about when Steven Nzonzi was adjudged to have handled a free kick in the box.
Punters could therefore decide to take advantage of odds of 7/2 and back the Canaries to take all three points back to Norfolk after exploiting Villa’s Achilles’ heel, with a successful £25 free bet on this outcome set to return £112.50.
For those looking for even bigger returns, odds of 17/2 are available on the game to be level at half time and Norwich to be winning at full time.
Almost 70 per cent of the goals Villa have conceded have been let in after the interval, and Norwich’s late show against Blackburn last weekend, where they scored twice in the last eight minutes to salvage the draw, shows how they are prepared to fight to the death to maximise their points haul.
Using the £25 free bet on a draw/Norwich win at half time/full time would return a healthy £237.50 if successful.
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