Barnsley v Aston Villa - Tuesday 19:45
Roberto Di Matteo was quick to laud the fighting spirit of his Aston Villa players after they fought back gamely to thwart Newcastle, turning the tables on a recurring trend at Villa Park this season by snatching a late equaliser of their own. And who can blame him? Sadly, though, spirit is about much more than not throwing in the towel when underdogs in front of the TV cameras.
Now an altogether less glamorous assignment awaits and the prospect of letting down a 4,000-strong travelling contingent by failing to measure up against a team who were playing League One football last season is just the sort of thankless scenario that could expose any lingering frailties. Take the 21/10 available on the home win.
If any team here is going to play with freedom, slip through the gears and find their A-game, the hosts look the better bet. And that’s where the value really lies in this game - backing Barnsley to win well. The Tykes aren’t your average promoted side. They are talented, fearless and energetic. And when it all comes together, the results can be devastating.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men might have slipped below their early standards in the last two outings - against Reading and Brighton - but that doesn’t negate their threat if they rediscover the form that saw them put four goals past Wolves at Molineux a fortnight ago. Be bold, back Barnsley -1 on the handicap at 6/1 and chance the Barnsley 3-0 correct score at a whopping 40/1.