CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) shares his verdict from Saturday evening's contest between Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest,
Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest | Saturday 23rd September 2017, 17:30 | Sky Sports
This will be the fourth Championship weekend in a row where either of these two teams has taken up the Saturday evening slot so it’s only right that they meet each other in said slot, I suppose.
Aston Villa picked up a good win at Barnsley last weekend and Nottingham Forest lost either side of the international break on Saturday evening, so both have incurred differing fortunes.
The home/away bias has been interesting to see with nearly every team in the league performing better on home soil than on the road. I guess that’s to be expected but there’s some quite big difference in home and away form.
Villa are one of those and are unbeaten at Villa Park in the Championship (W1-D3-L0). In all but one of those games they’ve been far superior and the stats are quite interesting if you like those kind of things…
Looking at the xG shows that they are averaging 2.21 Expected Goals in each home game – more than anyone else in the league – whilst their opposition have averaged an xG of 1.14 at Villa Park.
Now the interesting bits, in terms of shots taken, shots on-target, conversion rate and goals scored, they’re bang average. Combine all that information and it tells us that when Villa create chances, they’re good opportunities but aren’t being taken.
Last week at Barnsley they produced almost exactly the same numbers as their home averages, (2.19 for, 1.16 against) but crucially took those chances and came away with a 3-0 win. If they can carry on doing that the previous pressure on Steve Bruce could soon be completely gone.
On the other hand, Forest seem to perform better away. On the road, their xG is a decent 1.47 which is the fourth best in the league and also includes their trip to Sunderland where they didn’t turn up offensively (which skews that figure).
The opposition has averaged 1.5 xG. Only Millwall and Brentford have taken more shots away from home but no side has taken fewer as hosts, so there’s maybe some tactical nous still to be applied when playing at the City Ground.
Overall, the Tricky Trees have scored in seven of eight games – including all four away. Purely looking at the away games, they’ve conceded nine goals in the first three games before shutting out Sunderland – that’s the only one of the quartet that hasn’t seen Both Teams To Score and also Over 2.5 Goals.
The betting angle
The first two games at Villa Park saw eight goals in total (1-1 and 4-2) but the most recent two have been goalless, which I presume plays a part in the Over 2.5 Goals quotes being up around the evens mark for this one.
Both of those games could and should have seen a least a couple of goals though. Having found their goalscoring boots last weekend, plus Forest’s ability to both score (and more importantly concede at will) I’m wondering if that’s a nice option.
I also quite want to have Villa onside, though. After that shaky start they’re now five unbeaten in the league and unbeaten at home. There may be more draws than wins but the return of Jonathan Kodjia last weekend made a big difference in attack and could well be again this week against a poor back line.
Mark Warburton’s team have been quite the opposite, having started the season well but have dropped off since. They’ve lost three of the last four and seem to be searching for the system and players to fall into place in midfield and attacking areas.
I’d be quite happy saying Villa will score at least twice – a nice 10/11 shot in itself – but there’s more goals in it, I feel. A Villa win with both teams getting on the scoresheet is 3/1, which again is tempting, but I’ve a nagging feeling the crucial third goal could easily go either way.
For that reason, backing Villa to win and Over 2.5 Goals goals is the sensible route to take. It’s quite a big drop from 3/1 to 19/10 (Coral) but better to be safe than sorry.
Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest – Aston Villa to win and Over 2.5 Goals (19/10 Coral)