Stoke City and Aston Villa have both failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four games and if Peter Crouch, Gabby Agbonlahor and Darren Bent are all fit to start, it is hard to see that changing when the two sides lock horns at the Britannia Stadium.
The Potters’ joint leading scorers are Jon Walters and Crouch with four goals apiece but the team have been sharing the goals around, with no less than nine players finding the net this season.
Walters has bagged two penalties so far and he is priced at 11/2 to score the first goal of the match and 3/2 to find the net at any time. Crouch is a 5/1 chance to break the deadlock and 7/5 to score at some point.
Winger Matthew Etherington is a player in form, as illustrated by his two goals against Tottenham recently, and he will be looking to make hay down a Villa right flank weakened by the absence of Alan Hutton following the full-back’s crazy red card against Arsenal.
Villa are woeful at defending set-pieces, having conceded more headed goals in the Premier League this season than any other team. This is great news for punters as it makes Stoke’s defensive players tempting goalscorer propositions at lengthy-looking odds.
Etherington’s odds of 10/1 to score first could attract some supporters but a punt on him to score any time at 11/4 may prove the safer option.
Looking at Aston Villa’s chances, it is Agbonlahor and Bent who are leading the scoring charts with five goals apiece so far this campaign.
Agbonlahor came back from suspension to start against the Gunners last week but Bent has been struggling with injury and missed the last two games.
However, Villa have been boosted by the news their star striker is back in training and could feature. Bent is a 6/1 chance to get the first goal of the game and 17/10 to score any time while Agbonlahor is 8/1 to net first and 9/4 to score any time.
Stoke’s physical approach to games means they always get chances and have a real aerial threat from the likes of Crouch, Robert Huth, Ryan Shawcross and Jonathan Woodgate.
On top of that, Villa are woeful at defending set-pieces, having conceded more headed goals in the Premier League this season than any other team. Even Yossi Benayoun managed to notch one off his bonce against them!
This is great news for punters as it makes Stoke’s defensive players very tempting goalscorer propositions at lengthy-looking odds. Huth is regularly the target of the Potters’ dead-ball deliveries (while occasionally having a pop at goal himself from free-kicks) and looks the most likely at a generous 12/1 to score first and 11/2 to score at any time.
However, it’s difficult to look past Walters for our goalscorer tip. He will be on penalty-kick duty and also takes his share of free-kicks, giving him plenty of opportunities to get shots on goal. As well as that, he thrives on knockdowns from Crouch and company so it is well worth backing him to score in the match at 3/2.
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