Aston Villa may have started the season with a bang but it’s Stoke, the conquerors of Premier League champions Manchester City in their own backyard last time out, who must be backed to top the Midlands pecking order before the top-flight resumes.
Paul Lambert’s charges have given themselves a decent platform to build on as they sit nestled in third after three games, but any Villa fans who’ve checked the fixture list already will be cowering behind the sofa.
A gauntlet of epic proportions lies before them in the next five games which reads Liverpool (a), Arsenal (h), Chelsea (a), Manchester City (h) and Everton (a).
It’s fair to say that a return in excess of four points would probably be considered a big success for the Villans, who could currently be drawing in a few bets at 11/4 to be top dogs of the Midlands given their impressive start.
However, while Roy Keane’s arrival as Lambert’s assistant and a better blend of experience in the team promise to make this a far better season for the Villa Park faithful, it’s Stoke who should still prevail in the market.
If as expected Villa begin to faulter over this ridiculously tough stretch therefore, the Potters’ odds of 6/5 won’t stay the better side of evens for much longer.
That Etihad victory gave a glimpse of strength Mark Hughes’ squad possess, where the Welsh manager will be looking to push on from their ninth-place finish last season given a few notable additions such as Bojan Krkic.
Without any disrespect to West Brom and Leicester in the same market, neither look to have the requisite personnel to better Stoke’s finishing position.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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