Aston Villa v Newcastle - Saturday 17:30, Sky Sports 1
Aston Villa have the best first-half record in the Championship. They’ve been ahead in half of their eight matches and boast an aggregate score of 5-0. Sadly, though, things have generally gone to pot after the interval. The Villans have triumphed in the second half only once, and that was against Rotherham - the only game in which they had the luxury of a two-goal cushion.
The sample might not be huge but we can safely say the trend is more than a coincidence. The concession of late equalisers at home to Huddersfield, Nottingham Forest and Brentford indicate a mental fragility when defending leads, a problem that Roberto Di Matteo openly talks about. Given the quality of opposition this weekend, it’s a problem that could easily haunt them again.
Split a point between the Aston Villa/Draw and Aston Villa/Newcastle half time/full time outcomes at 17/1 and 33/1 respectively. Both teams have spent heavily and there’s not a great deal between them at 0-0, the difference is what happens if a goal is scored and the game opens up. Whoever scores first, it’s hard to imagine Villa not finishing on the back foot.
The 19/10 available on Newcastle to win the second half might appeal to some but there’s a fair chance these two sides just cancel each other out, or that the Magpies edge head beforehand and don’t need attack thereafter. If Villa go ahead, though, it shouldn’t be long before the cracks appear and they start doubting themselves, encouraging Newcastle on to them.Click here for more information about Mike Holdenís shot-based ratings system