Something for the weekend
Matt Briggs picks out the early value on this weekend's coupon with Bournemouth begging to be backed.
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Birmingham v Bournemouth
Birmingham have got the worst home record in the country and they look well worth opposing against Bournemouth at St Andrew's on Saturday. The Cherries are 8/5 shots against a Blues side who have won just two home games in the league all season - the last being at the start of October. The 7/4 about a home win looks short and there looks to be just enough in the 8/5 quote on the visitors to make it worth our while. Eddie Howe's men have picked up on the road of late with three wins in there last four outings - all by the same 1-0 scoreline. Defensively they have become a lot more solid with just one goal conceded in their last six games and they are more than capable of keeping out a Blues attack. At the other end the hosts have leaked 28 home goals - the most in the division - and Howe's men certainly have the potency to add to their six away wins.
West Brom v Cardiff
Cardiff have been scrapping for their lives at the foot of the Premier League without much reward in recent weeks, but they look primed for victory at fellow strugglers West Brom this weekend and at 13/5 draw no bet they are well worth backing. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have been unfortunate of late and put up a terrific first-half showing against Liverpool before being outgunned. The spirit is certainly still intact in Wales and in their last two away games, which ended in defeats by the odd goal at Tottenham and Everton, they have shown enough to convince me they have a decent shout at the Hawthorns. They will also travel to face a Baggies side who will be without Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Billy Jones and possibly Victor Anichebe. That will leave the hosts lightweight, and whether boss Pepe Mel is capable of lifting his squad is debatable. They have not won at home since New Year's Day and were poor in defeat last weekend at Hull and woeful in their last home loss to Manchester United. They look like a side destined for the drop and a rare away win for Cardiff could be on the cards.
Manchester United v Aston Villa
Manchester United found some of their counter-attacking play of old to sink West Ham at the weekend and with it one of this column's fancies, but I'm ready to oppose the champions again at home to 15/2 pokes Aston Villa. David Moyes should be given credit for shuffling his team around at Upton Park after three games in seven days and returning with two victories against Olympiacos and West Ham. But the hectic spell doesn't end there and after facing deadly rivals Man City in midweek - a match which is likely to be as mentally tiring as it will be physical - they will host a Villa side who will be desperate to bounce back from their 4-1 home hiding against Stoke. Paul Lambert's men are not a side you can trust at odds-on, because you don't know which Villa will turn up, but at 15/2 they're well worth an interest. It has been well documented in this column that Villa's away record in the Premier League since 2008/09 is rather impressive with a 32% win ratio and therefore anything bigger than 2/1 is well worth a punt from a statistical point of view. That certainly looks the case again this weekend. United have struggled at Old Trafford and scored just 18 goals and with the onus on them to get on the front foot they have really struggled to find a balance between attack and defence. Villa certainly have the nous with the in-form Christian Benteke and co to play on the break and they could wel cause United problems.
- Selections given in order of preference.