Given that Aston Villa barely scraped a victory over a 10-man and bottom-of-the table Leicester City, there will be some who believe that 8/1 is a big price on Paul Lambert’s men being relegated this season.
After all this is a Villa team that has been pushing its luck a little for the past three seasons and have still only netted 10 goals in the current campaign. No other club has scored fewer.
Yet, despite this poor scoring record Villa are now up to the dizzying heights of 11th and just two points from the top half of the standings.
So what is the best bet – the 8/1 on Villa going down or the 9/2 that they secure a top-half finish for the first time since 2011? Our ball is firmly in the camp of the latter.
Looking back through Villa’s results, few are surprising. Aside from the defeat at QPR, all of their nil-point outings have been against opposition that they would have arguably been expected to lose to.
The Tottenham reverse is the slightly iffy one, but Villa looked on track to win that until Christian Benteke’s red card changed the complexion of that Villa Park encounter.
Also, they took a surprise win at Liverpool, which cancels out the QPR loss.
Most importantly of all though, Benteke is back.
Benteke had more shots than anyone else in this round of Premier League fixtures and he generally enables his team to retain possession in higher areas.
Gabby Agbonlahor has been doing a decent job of filling in for Benteke, but he tends to be reliant on balls into channels or over the top so that he can use his blistering pace.
Benteke can make a chance for himself, as he proved with his winner at Crystal Palace and he should have scored at least two against Leicester.
With Villa now having a clear focal point to their attacks and home games remaining against seven of the nine teams below them in the standings, relegation looks unlikely.
West Brom, Sunderland, Palace (again) and Leicester (again) all face Villa in their next six and there is every chance they will be shorter than 9/2 to finish in the top half after these fixtures are complete.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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