Newcastle United take on Aston Villa in the Premier League on Friday in an 8pm kick-off at St James’ Park.
The Villains will move above Liverpool into eighth place in the table with a victory as they look to secure European football for the first time in a decade.
Newcastle, on the other hand, have been dragged into a relegation battle as a result of a poor run of form and Fulham’s resurgence.
Villa are even-money favourites to win the match, with the draw 5/2 and a Newcastle win 11/4.
Both sides are devoid of key attacking players, with Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron all injured for the hosts. Jack Grealish will not recover from a leg injury in time for Villa, either.
Since Wilson and Grealish were injured, both sides have only scored two goals in four games, so it’s certainly tough to envisage a high-scoring game.
Newcastle have only scored 2+ or conceded 3+ twice in their last 15 games, illustrating that Steve Bruce’s side’s games tend to be low-scoring.
Villa, too, have failed to score more than once in any of their last eight games, and have not scored more than twice in any of their 12 games since the turn of the year.
Only Ederson has more clean sheets this season than Emi Martinez, so I’m happy to oppose goals on both fronts. I’ll back Under 2 Goals for Newcastle and Under 3 Goals for Aston Villa.
Paul Tierney officiates this one, with the 40-year-old showing each team one card and three or more overall in 15 of his last 17 PL games.
However, without Grealish and Saint-Maximin on display there’s likely to be a lack of individual stardom to draw fouls, so I’m a little reluctant to back cards just on the basis of the referee.
I am happy to back Newcastle to pick up a card, though, with them doing so in 23 of their 27 games this season and Villa drawing at least one in 23 of their 26.
Likewise, I want to get Villa corners on side. Despite lacking attacking potency, they’ve had 5+ in all four games without Grealish, while Newcastle have conceded 4+ in 15 of their last 16 games, so I’ll back this mark to land for the Villains:
Under 3 Goals for Newcastle, Under 2 Goals for Aston Villa, Over 0 Cards for Newcastle, Over 3 Corners for Villa @ EVS (bet365).
0-0 and 0-1 to Villa are best priced at 10/1 and 7/1 respectively.
In terms of player cards, I can envisage Jamal Lascelles struggling with Ollie Watkins’ pace, so 7/2 (bet365) for a rugged defender with three bookings to his name this season appeals.
Douglas Luiz has been booked in three of his last four starts, meanwhile, so 28/1 (Betfair) for the pair to be carded looks a good price.
An odds-against price I do like is Joe Willock to have a shot on target at 5/4 (Betfair), with the Arsenal loanee managing this in four of his five starts since joining Newcastle.
The midfielder played higher up the pitch in the 0-0 draw at West Brom and will be tasked with supporting Joelinton and Ryan Fraser as much as possible.
Given that he has failed to score in his last five games, Ollie Watkins feels due a goal to be honest.
He scored in the reverse fixture, so 9/5 (Betfair) is decent value on him doing so again. Watkins to score, Willock to have a shot on target and Lascelles to be carded makes a tasty 33/1 longshot.