Goals in short supply

  • By: Andy Schooler (Twitter: @NetTalkTennis)
  • Last Updated: January 25 2013, 19:46 GMT

The fourth round of the FA Cup gets under way on Friday night with struggling Aston Villa heading to Millwall.

Paul Lambert: Looking to avoid a second cup exit of the week
Paul Lambert: Looking to avoid a second cup exit of the week

Paul Lambert's side will look to avoid another cup exit following their midweek woe in the League Cup against fourth-tier side Bradford.

Our Andy Schooler looks at the game to see what's worth backing:

Millwall v Aston Villa (1945 GMT)

This is definitely a game Aston Villa could do without right now.

Embarrassed earlier this week by League Two Bradford, they are also fighting a relegation battle and now the prospect of exiting another competition at the hands of lower-league opposition looms large.

Millwall are cosndiered by the layers to be more likely winners of this match than the visitors and frankly that looks correct.

Villa look bereft of confidence right now. Unable to turn possession into clear-cut chances in the first half against Bradford on Tuesday, they paid the price after the break when they were hindered by some bizarre tactical changes from boss Paul Lambert. Chasing the game, throwing on attacking players was hardly a surprise but the clear lack of organisation and formation once the likes of Darren Bent, Christian Benteke and Gabriel Abgonlahor were all on the pitch just looked amateurish.

Those are the sort of things that 'lose the dressing room' and recovering from that loss is unlikely to be easy.

''The disappointment in my body, I've never felt this before,'' said defender Ron Vlaar following that League Cup exit.

''It was a great opportunity. If you don't win over two legs against Bradford...

''Credit to them, they did very well, but we should have won.

''We have to pick ourselves up. It is going to be hard but we have to."

The comments give you some idea of how the Villa players will be feeling heading into this game - they will try to be positive but will find it very difficult.

Millwall are unlikely to make it easy for them and in many ways this tie reminds me of a third-round tie priced up very similarly, namely Brighton v Newcastle, which saw a Championship side take on a struggling one from the top flight.

Millwall sit ninth (a point behind Brighton) so remain very much in the promotion hunt.

Their problem of late has been the loss of leading scorer Chris Wood, sold to Leicester earlier this month.

Taking the New Zealander's goals (11) out of the side was always going to have an effect and it's no coincidence that the Lions have managed just four goals in five games without him.

This leads to my selection fo this match - under 2.5 goals at odds-against.

That goal struggle for Millwall has resulted in four of their five games without Wood featuring under 2.5 goals. In home games, five out of seven meet the criteria.

They've also managed to keep a clean sheet in five of their last nine home games.

The stats on Villa's side aren't as positive but you have to think they will want to keep things as tight as possible at the New Den in a bid to build at least some confidence ahead of their midweek league clash with fellow strugglers Newcastle.

With that in mind, it could well be worth waiting for the team line-ups - if Villa rest Christian Benteke, their one player of true quality, then quotes around 6/4 will be well worth taking.

However, at time of writing it's the under 2.5 goals bet which appeals most at 21/20.

For those who disagree and perhaps want a bigger price, Liam Trotter is worth consideration in the goal markets.

The Millwall midfielder has netted six times this season and sometimes takes penalties. He's also an aerial threat which, given Villa's problems defending set-plays of late, is another plus.

He's 10/3 to score a any time, although if, like me, you fancy it to be a low-scoring contest, then the 10/1 in the first goalscorer market looks better.

Verdict: Millwall 1 Aston Villa 0

  • Preview posted at 1750 GMT on 23/01/2013.