CARDS specialist Chris Goodwin (@CGeorgeGamble) picks out his favourite fancies from Thursday evening's showdown between Aston Villa and Burnley.
Aston Villa vs Burnley | Thursday 17th December 2020, 18:00 | Amazon Prime
It’s the battle of the Clarets on Thursday evening as Aston Villa welcome Burnley to Villa Park knowing that a win will take them into seventh and just three points of the top-four with two games in-hand.
It’s a peculiar season and that’s personified by Aston Villa’s league position. They currently sit in 11th but, prior to kick-off, have three games in hand over some of those at the top of the table. They’ve impressed on many occasions this season but their home form has been somewhat questionable.
On home soil, Villa have claimed victory over relegation candidates Sheffield United and had an emphatic win over Champions Liverpool. However, they’ve conceded NINE goals in their last THREE home games – against Southampton, Leeds United and Brighton. Arguably sides they should be beating.
As much as Villa are poor at home, Thursday evening’s visitors Burnley are possibly even more woeful away. In the six games they’ve played on their travels this season, they’ve lost THREE, drawn TWO and won ONE. Granted that win came last time out against Arsenal but the Gunners are in utter turmoil at the minute.
The Clarets are averaging just 2.7 shots on target per away game this season which is nowhere near enough to be picking up points regularly.
A win for Sean Dyche’s side see’s them leap out of the relegation zone. Meanwhile, a win for Villa sees them take an extra step towards the top six.
- Commit on average 10 fouls per game when playing at home (third least).
- Receive on average 15 fouls per game when playing at home (Highest in the EPL).
- Have seen 2+ cards in 4/5 home games this season.
- In those games, the opposition has seen 2+ cards on 4/5 occasions.
- Average the highest number of corners per game in the league (7.4)
- Have seen 5+ corners in 4/5 home games this season and 10+ in 3/5.
- Over 2.5 goals has landed in Villa’s last FOUR home EPL games.
- Have lost their last THREE home EPL matches.
- Have conceded at least TWO goals in their last FOUR home games.
- Average the sixth-highest shots per game when playing at home (16.4).
- Having stuck with the same side for so much of the campaign, Dean Smith will be forced into a number of changes for the visit of Burnley, with mainstays Matty Cash and Douglas Luiz suspended.
- The former will likely be replaced by Ahmed Elmohamady despite Frederic Guilbert’s return from injury, while the latter could be replaced by Conor Hourihane or Marvelous Nakamba.
- It wouldn’t be a surprise if both started and teenager Jacob Ramsey dropped to the bench despite a decent full debut at Wolves, while Anwar El Ghazi may be awarded a first league start of the season.
- Commit on average 11.2 fouls per game when playing away.
- Receive on average 11 fouls per game when playing away.
- Have seen 2+ cards in 3/6 away games so far this season.
- In those games, the opposition has seen 2+ cards on 3/6 occasions.
- Conceded the fourth-highest number of shots per game when playing away (15.5).
- Concede the third-highest number of corners per game in the league (6.6).
- Have conceded 5+ corners in 5/6 away games so far this season and 8+ in 3/6.
- Having escaped the relegation zone with an excellent win at Arsenal and done so unscathed, Sean Dyche could name an unchanged XI.
- Ashley Barnes will hope that isn’t the case as he competes for a spot with Jay Rodriguez, though the latter has a decent record against Villa and may get the nod once more.
- Elsewhere there may be starts for former Villans Matt Lowton and Ashley Westwood, with the former starting in the absence of another in Phil Bardsley.
Referee: Craig Pawson
- Has awarded 23 yellow cards in SEVEN appearances this season – averaging 3.29 cards per game.
- In his last 20 games officiated, the home side has seen at least a card in 19 (95%).
My first pick is for the home side to have 16 or more shots. This bet landed in this exact fixture last season when the Villans didn’t have as much firepower as they do now. They will be without a few key players but still, the players they do have available to them are of far better quality than those they had last season.
This bet has also landed in THREE of their FIVE home games so far this season. The two in which it didn’t were against Bielsa’s Leeds United, where they didn’t see much of the ball and at home to Brighton, where they had 15 attempts, one less than what we need here.
My second pick is for Dean Smith’s side to see 7+ corners and for there to be THREE or more match goals. Similar to above, this bet landed in this fixture last season and I think it has a great chance of doing so again. Villa are currently averaging the highest number of corners per game in the league (7.4) and welcome a side who concede the third most corners per game this season (6.6).
Burnley are averaging around 41% possession when playing away this season and so I think they’re going to sit and try to soak up some of the inevitable pressure and attempt to stop Dean Smith’s side from making any clear cut chances. I’m expecting Villa to pile up on the corner count.
Finally, I’m going with over 24.5 match fouls to be committed. Villa are the most fouled side in the division (as they were last season) and they play a Burnley side who aren’t afraid to put in a tough tackle or two.
This count was exceeded in this fixture last season, and with both teams coming off of the back of fantastic results I think we could see a surprisingly intense matchup with goals, counter-attacks and fouls.
Referee Craig Pawson is averaging just 22.43 fouls per game so far this season. However, the majority of games he has taken charge of this season have featured teams who do not tend to commit or receive many fouls consistently. Because of this, I think the over 24.5 line is beaten relatively comfortably.