Bournemouth v Aston Villa: Cherries look shocking value for Villa test
Bournemouth entertain Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon, and Alan Dudman thinks the Cherries offer no value whatsoever for a crunch relegation fixture...
Bournemouth v Aston Villa Saturday 1st February, 15:00
Cherries still deep in trouble despite Brighton win
A much needed 3-1 win for Bournemouth over Brighton recently stemmed the rot somewhat following a shocking run of results, and it left manager Eddie Howe to reflect that his team are still good enough for the Premier League. However, the run of losing 11 of their last 15 games across all competitions perhaps tells a different story.
Of course, it was a confidence-boosting three points, and Howe certainly has "credit in the bank" at a club he is idolised at, but I won't be joining in the high-fives just yet in terms of latching onto just one result, as Bournemouth still have a lot of problems. One headache was the fact that Brighton had 21 shots on target in that Vitality game. Twenty one. Had it not been for rookie keeper Aaron Ramsdale starring, we could have had ourselves a different sort of headline.
The Seagulls played all the football too, and whilst it was clearly a big home win, the run of four points from a possible 36 prior to that result is still something to keep in mind.
Howe's side exited stage left from the FA Cup on Monday against a youthful Arsenal team, but that has little impact on whatever happens this Saturday. Bournemouth fielded a team that had six changes, and a Cup run is not on the list of priorities.
Smith's side turning the corner after cup boost?
Whilst Bournemouth's Monday night loss was a little underwhelming, it was a different knockout scenario for Dean Smith's Aston Villa - who triumphed over the two legs in the Carabao Cup against Leicester to book their place at Wembley. It will be their first final in the competition since 2010. Although Smith had to thank his goalkeeper Orjan Nyland - who produced a string of outstanding saves.
It was a great moment for the Villa Park boss, a boyhood fan of the club. But the big job is staying in the division.
In terms of the league form; Villa have taken four points from their previous two top flight away matches, and that's as many as they had collected in 17 games prior on the road. A good sign things could be turning perhaps?
The evidence of a side on the up can be seen with those recent results. The 2-1 victory at home to Watford was a game they were fairly dominant in, and whilst they lack a bit of a cutting edge with a team that hasn't got a recognised centre-forward, the creative input of Jack Grealish in the 3-4-3 always gives Villa a chance. The 24-year-old has been nothing short of sensational recently - and he was the man that provided the key passes in their away success at Burnley.
Any team would love Grealish playing for them at the moment. He's a tremendous player.
Hosts look ridiculously short, so it's Villa as the outsider
Diving in straight away to the outright Match Odds, the 2.16 on a Bournemouth win has to be one of the worst prices available this weekend. Perhaps it's an overreaction to their Brighton victory? But I won't be going anywhere near that. I'm not saying they cannot win, but they have only been successful three times all season at Dean Court, with five defeats. They just don't warrant being that short.
If you are a layer, it's quite an attractive price to take on.
We also should consider the fact that Villa are very much an improved side since a tactical shift to a 3-4-3. The defenders in that "three" were superb at Burnley, and the system also allows the creative players to get on the ball a bit more - something Smith wanted. The defensive shield from Marvelous Nakamba also plays a part, as he can stifle any sort of counter-attack from the hosts in their 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1). Nakamba earned the plaudits for a man-of-the-match display against Watford.
The visitors might continue with the lack of a recognised striker, but they do have option of new signing Mbwana Samatta. That doesn't put me off the price, though, and I'd much rather be involved with the 3.65 for a Villa win. The Draw No Bet makes obvious appeal, but I feel the market is overrating Bournemouth's win against Brighton just a little bit too much.
Yes, there's a question of a hard game with Leicester on Tuesday, and that could potentially be a factor in the prices, but the hosts have kept just one clean sheet in 12 Premier League matches, which makes the case to the oppose them even stronger.
Grealish a good bet to get on the scoresheet again?
The Bournemouth of old would have alerted me to the Both Teams To Score market, but since they are just two from their last 10 for that particular bet, the price (admittedly quite early this week on the Exchange) was far too short for me to consider at 1.65. Also the approach from Bournemouth could be a little different. Considering it's a game neither dare lose in relation to their relegation-threatened places, the Cherries are unlikely to really go for it.
On the flip side, Villa are the only team without a clean sheet away from home this term.
However, their opponents aren't exactly screaming goals of late. Striker Callum Wilson ended a horror drought with his recent strike against Brighton. Prior to that, he had gone 16 games without a goal and several months. And he alongside Harry Wilson account for 57% of their goals.
Grealish could be a popular bet in the To Score and First Goalscorer markets considering he has been directly involved in 16 goal across all competitions this term (with nine goals). The midfielder teams up really with Matt Targett in the 3-4-3, and I am tempted to play him in the To Score market at 4.00, considering just how well he is playing.