CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) shares his verdict from Saturday evening's contest between Barnsley and Aston Villa.
Barnsley v Aston Villa | Saturday 16th September 2017, 17:30 | Sky Sports
Just one televised Championship game this weekend as Barnsley host Aston Villa.
I’ll be honest and say Barnsley are one of the teams I don’t know a great deal about. The media coverage on them is far inferior than their Yorkshire rivals, especially down south so it’ll be nice for a bit of spotlight to be on them for a change.
What I do know is that Paul Heckingbottom did a fantastic job leading the Tykes to a 14th-placed finish last season. That was with 11 home draws so a top-half finish could and maybe should have been achieved.
So far this season, Barnsley have started out fairly well all thing considered, with two wins and a draw from six games. There are a few things that stand out when looking at Barnsley that are impressive.
Firstly, they have the youngest squad in the league, with an average age of just 23.3, over a year younger than closest rivals Brentford.
The other being that the team is almost completely made up of Englishman, with a few from the other British Isles and overseas. For balance, opponents Aston Villa have the oldest squad with an average age of 28.2.
Aston Villa and Steve Bruce still haven’t got things going yet, though have improved since the early weeks of the season. From where I am, it looks like Bruce doesn’t know how to improve things.
There’s been chopping and changing in the line-ups and a few formation tweaks almost game-to-game, seemingly hoping to accidently fall on a winning formula. Other than a good win against Norwich four weeks ago, it hasn’t happened yet.
Jonathon Kodjia came off the bench in midweek and hopes may be on his shoulders to make the difference. How Villa didn’t beat 10-man Middlesbrough on Tuesday night is a bit of a mystery – the 0-0 made it back-to-back goalless draws at Villa Park in four days.
For any non-Villa fans who haven’t seen those highlights, it’s a good and entertaining watch.
The betting angle
I’ve got these two down as being very similar sides and the stats don’t do much to separate them either. The difference between them is home and away form.
Since the turn of the year Barnsley have lost just three of 13 league games at Oakwell including two wins and a loss this season. If you include cup competitions, that’s three defeats in 17, counting two triumphs wins in the League Cup this term, one of which being on Tuesday night against Derby.
On the other hand, in the same timeframe Villa have won just two of 14 away from hom – against the since relegated Wigan and Rotherham – losing 10 along the way. This season, the Villains have W0-D2-L1 from Villa Park though did manage to scrape past Colchester at Layer Road in the League Cup.
Now, taking those home and away records into account, imagine I said one of those teams was between 21/20 and 6/5 to win – you’d know which team that was right?
Wrong. Villa are big favourites and I can’t work out why.
Barnsley are generally around 12/5 to pick up the three points, which is definitely value. I like to air on the side of caution though and seeing as Villa have drawn four out of seven thus far, I’ll take the Tykes in the Draw No Bet market at a kind 8/5 (Unibet).
The only way to lose money is if Villa win as if the game ends all-square the selection is voided.
Barnsley v Aston Villa – Barnsley draw no bet (8/5 Unibet)