iBet: Villa will struggle against Spurs

Gareth Purnell

Premier League: Villa v Spurs (Sky Sports 1, kick off 5.30pm)

Lay Villa at 2.4 to 1

There is one standout bet in the Boxing Day fixtures for me and it’s in a game that will go ahead (in fact I’ll be there). Villa Park has undersoil heating, but Aston Villa don’t have much in the way of togetherness because their manager, Gerard Houllier Houllier, is making no friends at all.

Fresh from offending every Villa fan in the land by applauding the Liverpool fans before a 3-0 thumping at Anfield, Houllier told his players they had to meet at a hotel on Christmas Day in preparation for this match.
He’s sacked the captain, and introduced unpopular double training sessions and while his heavy handed approach could pay off, there is a danger of the wheels coming off. Contrast that to the happy camp at White Hart Lane, where Harry Redknapp seems to be able to make his players jump through hoops for him.

In fairness, Harry also has what I consider to be the strongest squad in the Premiership but they have won more points from losing positions than anyone else in the division by some distance, which shows the spirit in the camp. And importantly they have the classy Rafael van der Vart back today. Kaboul and Jenas are also fit again. Villa’s form has been poor for the whole season. They have had an injury crisis but the players just do not seem to be behind the manager, who could well be the next to go if things don’t pick up quickly.

Villa’s captain is now Ashley Young (a strange decision in itself). He won’t sign a new contract and is a doubt for this match anyway because of injury. Villa have in fairness been saved from being in the relegation zone by their home form, where they have won four, drawn four and lost one. But they haven’t beaten any of the ‘big four’, although they have drawn with Chelsea and Man Utd at Villa Park. But the only teams they have beaten this season in 17 Premiership games are Everton (luckily), West Ham, Blackpool, West Brom and Wolves, which says it all about how they have fallen away since Martin O’Neill left.

Spurs, who beat Villa in October, come to this game on the back of a six-game unbeaten run in the league, the best run since Harry took over. The price to lay Villa at 2-1 is excellent in my opinion and is based more on last season’s form than this. Villa have won only one of their last 12 matches against Spurs and have a very dodgy post Christmas record, having only picked up three points in one Boxing Day game since 1999.

I expect Spurs to at least get a draw and am laying Villa for a full point.

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