Most punters’ first reaction to being informed that Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke will miss their visit to West Ham through suspension would be to confidently mark the Irons down as winners of the fixture on their betting slips.
However, it just might be too simplistic to suggest that that Paul Lambert’s party will lose their way amongst the foothills of the Hammers defence without their centre-forward sherpa.
West Ham are an attractive looking 3/4 to weigh in with a fourth Boleyn Ground success on the hop, while their brothers in claret and blue are a ‘rather you than me’ 15/4 and the draw can be backed at 13/5.
Benteke’s absence should only make Villa’s prospects more forlorn shouldn’t it? Not necessarily.
In the three matches since he returned to the starting line-up he has yet to score or assist, while Andreas Weimann’s opener against Spurs is the only goal his side have mustered between them during that period.
By his manager’s admission the 23-year-old is still several games from match fitness after a severe knee injury.
Being without Benteke offers Lambert the chance to reprise a strikeforce which, by one way or another, reaped rewards early in the season.
Villa have won two of the three games in 2014/15 where they either started Gabriel Agbonlahor up front on his own or played him alongside Weimann.
While never plentiful during the campaign’s opening stanzas, the goals didn’t entirely dry up until defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea followed the sickness-leavened loss to Arsenal.
Returning to a system which had enough about it to penetrate Stoke and Liverpool away from home and Hull twice at Villa Park should see the 83/100 about both teams scoring cop against a side who have kept just one clean sheet in 11 matches this season.