Leicester vs Aston Villa | Sunday 18th October 2020, 19:15 | Sky Sports Box Office
Aston Villa are loving life right now. The Villans have won their first three games of a top-flight season for the first time since 1962; their multi-million-pound signings have started excellently, and, for all the doom and gloom of last season, their vision is clearly focused on steering clear of the relegation scrap this time around.
Villa travel from West to East Midlands to play Leicester, who suffered a shocking 3-0 home defeat to West Ham before the international break. Despite scoring 12 goals in their first three, winning all comfortably, they became unstuck against the Hammers and failed to register even a shot on-target.
Brendan Rogers will be looking for a response here but with some key men doubtful after picking up injuries from respective international commitments.
Villa impressing so far
The two sides met four times last season, in the league and in a Carabao Cup semi-final two-legger. Leicester won both league encounters, 1-4 and 4-0, but crashed out at the semi-final stage after a dramatic night at Villa Park in January.
Across those four contests, Leicester averaged 20.3 shots on the Villa net, only conceding an average of 7.7 shots from the Claret & Blues who struggled to dominate in any game.
This is a new look Villa, to some extent, and they have looked very impressive, even without mentioning their 7-2 demolition over the Premier League champions Liverpool two weeks ago. They sit eighth in the xG table and second-best in terms of xG against.
This could perhaps be down to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s arrival from Arsenal, with the defence then having belief and trust in the Argentinian which in turn affects their game positively.
Matty Cash has looked dangerous going forwards from full back, continuing his desired and determined performances that earned him a move to the Premier League from Nottingham Forest.
The arrival of Ross Barkley on loan from Chelsea has given Jack Grealish even more license to roam and drift to where he sees fit, and record signing Ollie Watkins has not struggled to find his feet in the topflight, scoring a hat trick against Liverpool.
Villa look a real force on paper. They are best price 16/5 to win at the King Power Stadium on Sunday night.
Leicester have not had a good international break in terms of freshening up the squad and getting some absentees back in the frame. Jonny Evans hobbled off at half-time in Northern Ireland’s defeat in Norway, whilst Caglar Soyuncu missed Turkey’s last match with a hamstring problem.
Daniel Amartey, Ricardo Pereira and Wilfred Ndidi are out. That makes five defenders missing for Rogers which could hand a debut to summer signing Wesley Fofana. If he pairs Wes Morgan as reports suggest, and with James Maddison facing a late fitness test, I do fear for Leicester this Sunday.
The betting angles
Referee Jon Moss has the whistle for this clash, who averaged 3.73 cards per-game last season, and has given three or more cards in his four games managed this campaign (Premier League and Carabao Cup). In the four games he refereed Aston Villa last season, he gave their opponents 11 yellow cards and 1 red card.
In the four matches played out last season, in every game each side picked up at least a caution, with Villa collecting 11 in total compared to Leicester’s six. The contests were punctuated with free kicks and niggly fouls, with James Maddison and Jack Grealish on the same pitch, seeing both sides averaging roughly 17 free kicks per game in those four matches.
Both sides are at full strength at the top end of the pitch which should make an end to end game.
Leicester could be without three or four key defenders come Sunday and that should make it an exciting watch. They have conceded at least twice in five of their last six matches, and with Villa in winning form and goals a plenty in Leicester matches, I can see Villa notching twice, just like Burnley and West Ham have managed at the King Power this season.
Given all this, both teams to get a card and both teams to find the net is a tasty 23/20 on bet365 Bet Builder and I like that. I’ll also chuck in a longer shot for interest on smaller stakes given the expected nature of the game with plenty of tactical fouls to stop counter attacks. If Aston Villa continue their fine attacking play, I could see them getting something from this game, despite the bookies having Leicester odds-on.