Go for goals at Villa Park
With doubts surrounding Ron Vlaar's fitness our Ben Coley thinks goals are on the agenda at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
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It's a huge night for clubs towards the bottom of the table and 6/1 quotes about Sunderland going down will be long gone if they lose this one. Saturday's 4-2 defeat to West Brom leaves Martin O'Neill's side just two points above the drop zone and with one home win all season, they're hard to back with any confidence at odds of around 13/10. New manager Harry Redknapp has been keen to highlight just how big a task is in front of QPR after they made it 13 games without a Premier League win by losing to Manchester United on Saturday, but that's not stopped punters looking to back his side in the run up to this. Therein lies the problem though because while it's very likely that QPR will up their game now Redknapp is at the helm, I don't believe that quite justifies 9/4 quotes given how poor Rangers have been all year. Instead, the best value here can be had in backing Stephane Sessegnon to find the net at 5/2 with Paddy Power. After a poor start to the campaign he's scored two in two and having scored in both games against QPR last season, he'll be looking forward to this. Indeed, there have been words of support from his manager who labelled Sessegnon 'back to his best' after his goal on Saturday, and with QPR's away defensive record not a good one he's likely to get chances. In summary this is a very hard game to call and the match prices reflect that, so side with an in-form striker instead.
Verdict: Sunderland 2 QPR 2
One point in three games far from tells the full story of Aston Villa's recent run, and they'll be relishing the prospect of welcoming Reading having faced Arsenal and both Manchester clubs recently. The big concern for Paul Lambert - as well as facing constant quizzing with regards out-of-favour Darren Bent - is the fitness of captain Ron Vlaar, who had to come off on Saturday after he sustained a calf injury. If absent, you'd have to fancy Reading to score as they have done in five of their seven away games, but the question is can they tighten up at the back? That's certainly going to be pivotal to their prospects of survival for however good they look going forward, defensive naivety continues to cost them points. Saturday's 3-2 defeat to Wigan was tough on the Royals to an extent as a couple of key decisions went against them, but it was clear how much their opponents enjoyed the space Reading allowed them. I'd just about expect Villa to win this but that doubt over the impressive Vlaar is enough to put me off them at the price, and instead I'll have a small play on over 3.5 goals at 5/2 with sportingbet. Two of the last three meetings of the sides - and seven of 17 throughout history - have obliged in this market, as did Villa's last home game, and with their defensive injury problems a further boost it's a price that makes appeal.
Verdict: Aston Villa 3 Reading 1