Alex McLeish’s arrival at Villa Park this summer was met with howls of derision in certain quarters, although the Scot has now been begrudgingly accepted by the Villa faithful, with most supporters realistic about their club’s standing in the Premier League.
Owner Randy Lerner is not prepared to throw a bucket load of money at his manager to try and compete with the big boys, although a Europa League place is certainly possible and it has been a solid enough start with 12 points from 10 matches.
However, wins have been relatively scarce, with home victories against Wigan and Blackburn the only time that the Villans have collected three points. The Midlands side are strong favourites at 5/6 (bet365 – £200 free bets) to beat the Canaries on Saturday and leapfrog their opponents in the top flight.
Darren Bent has been among the division’s top scorers over the past few seasons, although the former Sunderland man has a modest total of three goals to his name this term and will be looking to improve his stats against the Premier League new boys. He is 4/1 (Coral – £30 free betting) to score the first goal, although Gabby Agbonlahor is probably a better shout at 6/1.
Some of Norwich’s best performances have been on the road this season, most notably a recent 1-1 draw at Anfield, an unfortunate 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford and a 2-1 win at Bolton. Paul Lambert’s team are good at exploiting teams on the break and they are a 7/2 chance to return to East Anglia with the points in this match.
Perhaps the smartest bet is to back the draw at 5/2 considering that six of Villa’s ten games have finished all square this term, with City having avoided defeat in three of their five away matches.