Competing at different ends of the EPL table, Aston Villa host Tottenham Hotspur this weekend (2pm Sunday, live on Sky Sports).
Aston Villa are embroiled in what is probably a five-team scramble to avoid joining Norwich in going down to the Championship. Brighton in 15th and Watford in 19th are currently separated by three points. Villa are 17th, a point clear of Watford. It will be a close-run thing and the latest Premier League relegation betting odds from the bookmakers demonstrates as much.
Dean Smith’s side come into this fixture on the back of three consecutive matches against other members of that five-team group. A draw away to Brighton was followed by a 2-1 victory over Watford, and then a 1-2 defeat away to Bournemouth two weeks ago.
The match was lost during a first half in which Villa were dominated by their hosts. Bournemouth peppered their goal with shots and went in at the interval two goals to the good. Villa recovered well in the second half, fired off a similar volume of shots and did get a goal back through January signing Mbwana Samatta, but it was insufficient to take a point.
The amount of shots Villa give up has been an issue all season and one that the coaching staff haven’t successfully addressed. They concede almost two more shots per match than any other Premier League side. That unsurprisingly transfers to the joint-worst defensive record in the league, in addition to the division’s worst underlying numbers in that respect.
Villa have a tough run in from here and while four points certainly didn’t represent a bad haul from those three fixtures against direct competitors, they might just wish they’d taken a couple more points from them come the end of the campaign. They have to play nine of the current top 10 across their remaining 13 fixtures, starting with Sunday’s visit of a Tottenham Hotspur side who were 3-1 victors when the two sides met on the opening day of the season.
Back then, few would have predicted the path that Tottenham’s season has taken. Mauricio Pochettino was still in charge then and there was a bit of optimism in the air over a couple of particularly enticing summer arrivals. How quickly that changed. Eleven matches later, Pochettino was on his way out, and Jose Mourinho was waiting in the wings to replace him.
There can be little doubt that Spurs have improved since Mourinho took charge in late November. Both results and the underlying numbers support that assertion. They haven’t quite been able to string a good enough run of results together to put Chelsea’s fourth place, the final Champions League qualifying position, under serious threat.
Spurs are in a close pack of teams between fifth and ninth in the table, all of whom still have top-six finishes in their sights. Indeed, despite an inconsistent campaign that is yet to see them record more than two consecutive victories, they are only four points off Chelsea and that coveted four place. After back-to-back wins over Norwich and Manchester City, they could achieve their first three-match winning streak of the season on Sunday.
There was more than a bit of good fortune involved in the latter of those wins. Spurs were outshot 0-11 during the first half, grateful to Hugo Lloris for saving a City penalty just before the interval. They then scored with each of their first two shots of the match, through debutant Steven Bergwijn and Heung-Min Son. It was an important victory, the first against another big side under Mourinho, but not necessarily a repeatable one.
Spurs should have far less problems getting off shots on Sunday. Even without the injured Harry Kane, out until April, they have enough firepower in Son, Bergwijn and others to believe they should be capable of coming away with three points from what should be a relatively high-scoring match. That might just see them move to within serious striking distance of Chelsea come the end of the round.
Our Preview’s Aston Villa vs Tottenham Hotspur Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Tottenham Hotspur to win in a match featuring over 2.5 goals @ best odds of 17/10 with Paddy Power.
Compare AVFC vs THFC Odds from Top UK Online Bookies