LEICESTER travel to Aston Villa on Sunday. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up.
Aston Villa vs Leicester | Sunday 21st February 2021, 14:05 | Sky Sports
Super Sunday brings us the ‘Show Pony derby' as James Maddison and his Leicester teammates visit a Jack Grealish-led Aston Villa in what should be an intriguing battle as two of England's most creative midfielders go head-to-head.
The Villa skipper may be the man in possession after some eye-catching performances when finally given a start by Gareth Southgate but, although given his former club I may be a little biased, I would love to see Madders also make the Three Lions 23-man Euro squad .
Having scored four and assisted four goals in his last nine EPL games, if he continues that form, he will have every chance. He is 13/2 to be WhoScored MotM here.
Although if winning their games in hand Dean Smith’s side would climb from their current position of eighth to fifth in the table, they will need to perform better than in recent games – despite a respectable points haul they have offered little in attack and been indebted to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez for a catalogue of fine saves.
The Villains sit bottom of the xG table over the last four games, plumbing new depths with a total of just 0.14 in the goalless draw with Brighton last weekend whilst the hosts managed 2.33 but just couldn’t find a way past the summer signing from Arsenal.
Martinez denied Dan Burn, Joel Veltman, Leandro Trossard, Pascal Gross, Alexis Mac Allister and Danny Welbeck with world class saves as Brighton peppered the Villa goal with 26 shots, not an unusual recent occurrence with West Ham and Southampton also both managing 20 shots.
In his post-match man of the match interview the Argentinian shot stopper denied it was a good point against the Seagulls who he insisted deserved to win, it’s hard to imagine the Foxes will be so profligate.
Only Manchester United (28) have picked up more points on the road than the 27 Brendan Rodgers side have, losing just once (Liverpool) and claiming all three points on eight occasions, notably at Manchester City, Arsenal, Leeds and Spurs.
Leicester have also been miserly in defence with Caglar Soyuncu seamlessly coming in and partnering Jonny Evans in place of the brilliant Wesley Fofana – just one goal conceded in the last five competitive games speaks volumes.
Rodgers fielded a strong line up in the midweek draw with Czech Republic champions Slavia Prague, but resting the recently returned Ricardo Pereira (more on him later) along with withdrawing Jamie Vardy (64) and James Maddison (76) showed he did have one eye on this clash.
I was very tempted to take the 1/1 on offer with Boyle Sports for Leicester to have over 13.5 team shots (they are 13/1 with Betfair to follow suit as above and have 20+) but with Aston Villa having won only one of their last 20 EPL matches against opponents starting the day of the game in the top three (W1 D4 L15) I really like the 23/18 with SBK just for an away win – as was the case in this fixture last season – although I don’t expect a repeat of the 1-4 scoreline.
As mentioned above Jamie Vardy is back fit and available – he really does make his side look a different proposition going forward, he also seems to enjoy playing against the Villa, scoring five goals in his last four Premier League appearances against them, bagging a brace in both home and away fixtures last term.
The 34-year-old will be looking to register his 100th EPL goal involvement since turning 30 at Villa Park this weekend and in doing so join an elite band of six Premier League veteran superstars (Teddy Sheringham, Frank Lampard, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, and Gianfranco Zola) who have done so.
Vardy has hit the back of the net 12 times in 20 league appearances this campaign and for my final selection I am taking a chance on a familiar route to goal for him.
Leicester have been awarded 10 penalties so far this season, the most in the league with Vardy taking seven of them and scoring six – half his overall tally, if he is on the field Sunday and referee Michael Oliver points to the spot, he will be the man to step up again and is 6/1 with Bet Victor to convert the chance.
In the man who celebrated his 36th birthday the day prior to this fixture we have the referee who has awarded more penalties than any other in the EPL this season – 15 from just 18 appearances which is an incredible average of 0.83 per game. Oliver recently gave one for each side when Liverpool hosted Manchester City and he has awarded seven in his last seven league games.
To back Vardy to score a penalty simply go to Bet Victor, use their Bet Builder option and select method of goal.
Finally, I had earmarked the aforementioned Ricardo Pereira as a play in the tackles market and my eyes lit up at the 5/4 on offer for four or more – unfortunately since writing this piece the price has dramatically crashed – I have however asked Sky Bet to price up some tackle multi options – so keep your eyes peeled for any multis that include the Portuguese right back who made eight successful tackles in this game last season.
Aston Villa vs Leicester – Leicester to win (23/18 SBK)
Aston Villa vs Leicester – Jamie Vardy to score a penalty (6/1 Bet Victor)