26th January 2009 #1
Premiership Preview And Tips: Portsmouth v Aston Villa
After the ignominy of their cup exit, Portsmouth will be look for a turn in fortunes at Fratton Park on Tueday night. Will the tallest strike partnership in Premier League history be enough to start their recovery against Aston Villa?
You often find managers commenting that after a bad result they would much rather have another match quickly than have to stew about the previous setback.
No Premier League team fits more into that category this week than Tony Adams' Portsmouth. The South Coast outfit were embarrassed by Championship side Swansea on Saturday and going out of the FA Cup with such a whimper is cause for concern. However, they do get another game quickly on Tuesday night as they entertain Premier League highflyers Aston Villa.
It promises to be an entertaining clash as both sides seeks to overcome the loss of key players. Departures and injuries leave Portsmouth lacking cohesion while Villa's problems come from an ever growing injury and suspension list. Ashley Young is absent as part of his three game ban and Gabriel Agbonlahor left the Keepmoat Stadium with his legged strapped at the weekend.
Portsmouth have not won a league game since late November and after the game on Saturday it would take a brave man to predict the Villa game will be the one where they get back on track. Villa have not been beaten in the league since early November and the signing of Emile Heskey will provide much needed support for Agbonlahor. I expect Martin O'Neill to change his system and revert back to a 4-4-2. If Gabby is fit he will start up top with Heskey and Barry will play left midfield. I can see Villa taking all three points. At current odds of [2.3] they will be getting my support in the Match Odds market.
New signing Hayden Mullins may well come straight into the team on Tuesday night. Pele from Porto has also arrived on loan but I would be surprised if he was involved just yet. By all account Kanu's introduction at half-time on Saturday added some zip to the Pompey attack so he may well get the nod alongside Crouch, which would surely be the tallest centre-forward partnership ever! I think you will see Adams go for a much more attacking line-up in coming weeks and as such we should see goals at both ends. In this particular encounter I see plenty of value in backing Over 2.5 Goals at odds of around [2.08].
One of the more impressive stats in the league this year is that Villa have won every game in which they have scored the first goal. A clear indication that once they get in front it forces the opposition team to attack and we all know that this Villa side love to counter. With that in mind there is some merit in having a small wager on a Villa/Villa result in the HT/FT market. It is not a market I am particularly fond of but it does have its uses on these sorts of occasions.
The jury is out on whether Heskey is the kind of player a team looking to break into the top four needs. The age old argument is that for a striker he doesn't score enough goals. That is hard to dispute but he does have his merits and given the right service he is an excellent finisher. Strikers going to new clubs either take forever to get off the mark or they do it first game. I am going to go against the grain and suggest Heskey will get straight on the scoresheet. He should be available at somewhere around [3.5] to notch in the To Score market and should be supported at those odds.
I think the neutrals will be in for a belter on Tuesday evening. Adams' job is on the line and O'Neill's side could feasibly go joint top on points if they get the win. Even with so much at stake I expect a fast open game and goals galore.
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