Aston Villa vs Norwich City
You wouldn't be marking this game down as a glamour fixture for the Premier League but it does have an interesting story as Villa manager Paul Lambert faces off against his former employers who he left rather acrimonious circumstances in the summer. Neither side are going too well with just one win each although Norwich's came last weekend with a shock win at Carrow Road over Arsenal & that has helped put them onto 6 points compared to Villa's 5, this is a game both sides will feel they can win.
(Ron Vlaar looks & plays the part of dominant central defender for Villa)
The two teams are the joint lowest scorers in the league, along with Sunderland who've played one less, with 6 goals apiece & that lack of cutting edge is meaning relegation is a perilously realistic outcome this year. Villa signed Christian Benteke to help out in the goals department but he's managed just one (in their only win v Swansea) & Darren Bent has looked lost at times with the paucity of quality service that he needs to thrive. Norwich's problem going forward is their utter predictability & total reliance on Grant Holt to score their goals but the positive is that regardless of the fact teams know what his game is, it is still difficult to contain him & he's scored in their last three games.
On the positive side for both sides are they have decent keepers (Guzan & Ruddy) & Villa have a pretty sturdy defence with Ron Vlaar having come into the centre of defence & impressed as he's taken up the captaincy whilst Stilian Petrov has been out with serious illness. Matt Lowton has made the step from League One to the top flight look relatively easy & the Villa back four have managed to keep them in games longer than maybe they've deserved. All in all this looks like being a tight little affair & the bookies look to have got it wrong by making over, rather than under, 2.5 goals the shorter odds, back the unders in this game between sides who've combined to score just 12 goals in 16 league games.
Cheltenham Town vs Exeter City
Down in League Two, a local derby takes place as Cheltenham Town entertain Exeter City at Whaddon Road. Cheltenham are 4th currently whilst Exeter have faltered in recent weeks & have dropped down to mid-table.
(Kaid Mohamed fires one in for Cheltenham)
Exeter City started made a flying start to life in League Two with 5 victories in their first 7 league games but since then their form has been turned on its head with five defeats & only one win at bottom side Barnet in their last seven. A sole strike from evergreen forward Jamie Cureton at Dagenham & Redbridge the other night at least ended a run of three games without a goal.
Cheltenham will be expected to take advantage of a confidence hit Exeter side & continue their chase of league leaders Gillingham at the best price of 11/10 with Coral.
Brentford vs Hartlepool United
League One sees Brentford host managerless Hartlepool United at Griffin Park. Brentford are in 9th place after a solid start to the season whilst Hartlepool are rooted to the foot of the table.
Brentford have been a Jekyll & Hyde side so far this season in terms of their home & away form - on the road they are winless with only five points from a possible 21 but at home they have been great with five wins out of seven matches. Clayton Donaldson & midfielder Harry Forrester have been in fine goalscorer form for the Bees with 10 goals between them & they will be relishing the prospect of facing a leaky Hartlepool defence.
Hartlepool's manager Neale Cooper resigned after a 2-1 defeat against Bury on Tuesday as they raked up their ninth league defeat of the season, there aren't really any positives for Hartlepool currently & already they face a hard slog to competitive this season. Their away form is awful with only one point from seven matches & they have been inflicted to a number of heavy defeats leading to a record of on average 2.29 goals shipped per game.
Brentford's terrific home form should continue at the expense of sorry Hartlepool team & they should be first on all punters accumulator lists this weekend at reasonable odds of 4/6 with Coral.
Under 2.5 goals in Aston Villa vs Norwich City game at 11/10 (Various)
Cheltenham Town to beat Exeter City at 11/10 (Coral)
Brentford to beat Hartlepool United at 4/6 (Coral)