Following Aston Villa’s 6-0 crushing at the hands of Newcastle on Sunday, and have still yet to replace Martin O’Neill, Aston Villa’s odds have shot up from a one time 1.15 pre-season to currently at 1.86 on betfair, to finish above their Midlands rivals.
As a top 6 side for the past three seasons, these odds are very attractive given the players in the Aston Villa squad compared to their Midlands rivals. James Milner may have gone, but Stephen Ireland is a great replacement in the centre of the park, playing alongside the likes of Stiliyan Petrov, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young.
Aston Villa’s competitors for this bet are Birmingham City, Stoke City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion.
Birmingham City (5.1)
The Blues look like being Aston Villa’s biggest threat this season, given their top half finish last season, a few big summer buys and 4 points from their opening two games. But can Birmingham City exceed last season’s performance, that included 2 points from an under-performing Liverpool side, a goalless draw at home to Chelsea (thanks to the departed Joe Hart), a point off Manchester United and 13 points from Hull City, Burnley and Portsmouth collectively whom have all since been relegated. Birmingham took 0 points off of Aston Villa last season, finishing 14 points behind them.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (5.3)
Some people were surprised by Wolves taking a point away from Goodison Park at the weekend. So much so their odds are much shorter than I believe they should be in this league. Yes, 4 points from their opening two games is a good start, but there’s a lot of work still to go for Mick McCarthy and his side, who’s notice board in the locker room probably reads “36 more points to go”. I feel with one year of experience and a hardworking squad will see Wolves avoid relegation for a second successive season, but they won’t be in the top half nor near Aston Villa come the end of the season. They took 2 points from Aston Villa last season but still finished 26 points behind their rivals.
Stoke City (11)
A surprise package in their first Premier League season, they were very much just the same in the second. And they plan to be the same again in their third. It’s been a poor start from Stoke City this season, without a single point in their opening two games. Having failed to improve their squad over the summer, these will not be challenging for the crown of the top Midlands cup this season. Or any time soon for that matter. 1 point and 0 goals in their two games with Aston Villa in 2009/10 saw Stoke City finish 17 points behind the Villains.
West Bromwich Albion (11.5)
Often the whipping boys of the Premier League, the yo-yo club that is West Bromwich Albion followed up their 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea with a victory over Sunderland in their second game. With their dominance of the game, albeit the failure to score one goal, West Brom have certainly given their fans more optimism in surviving this season. However, as fifth favourites in the league of five to finish top of the Midlands league, West Brom aren’t going to come close to winning it.
Best bet: Aston Villa to be Top Midlands Club 1.86 (Football – English Football – Barclays Premier League – Head to Head Leagues – Top Midlands Club)