The heat is off 7/1 next-Premier-League-manager-to-go shot Paul Lambert for a few days at least, after the Aston Villa chief led his side to opening-day victory for the second season running with a 1-0 win away to Stoke.
Of course, last term’s shock 3-1 victory against Arsenal at the Emirates was followed by four Premier League defeats on the spin and six in total from the Midlanders’ first ten games, leaving them just three points above the relegation zone at the start of November.
Another dreadful run looks eminently possible – even likely – from a team that has added Premier League lightweights Philippe Senderos, Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Aly Cissokho to what was already a poor squad.
The capture of Colombia World Cup holding-midfielder Carlos Sanchez will be welcomed at Villa Park, certainly more than Lambert’s side’s next nine top-flight fixtures, which come as follows:
Newcastle (H), Hull (H), Liverpool (A), Arsenal (H), Chelsea (A), Manchester City (H), Everton (A), QPR (A), Spurs (H).
Villa claimed a paltry tally of seven points from eight of these fixtures last term (QPR were in the Championship) and there are plentiful reasons to believe they won’t even manage that much this time round.
Home wins over champions City and Steve Bruce’s Tigers will be harder to come by, as both seem to have gone a long way to correcting their 2013/14 road troubles.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side needed four attempts before finally managing an away win last term, with Lambert’s charges catching City cold early in the campaign, but a 2-0 cruise at St James’ Park against a dangerous looking Newcastle outfit seems to have settled the title defenders’ nerves already.
Meanwhile, Hull’s opening-day 1-0 victory at QPR means they’re just two away from matching their 2013/14 road tally already.
Times are a-changing in other ways at Villa too, with bored owner Randy Lerner recently hiring former Arsenal commercial manager Tom Fox as the club’s new chief executive.
Another poor early-season run could make Lambert’s position untenable, with the prospect of a 15th-place finish or worse for the third term running under the Glaswegian unlikely to whet Fox’s whistle.
Sam Allardyce is the 7/4 favourite in this market, but given the fact that West Ham’s owners rarely sack managers mid-season with something to play for, Lambert looks a much better bet at four times the price.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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