Aston Villa v Sunderland, Saturday 15:00
With relegation candidates such as Wigan Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers recently seeing improvements in form, Aston Villa need to start putting points back on the board and soon, as Betvictor or Victor Chandler offer free bets and long betting odds on Sunderland condemning the Birmingham outfit further on Saturday.
Alex McCleish’s side have the advantage of a game in hand over some of those below them in the table but overcoming Sunderland, themselves looking to tie down a top half finish, will pose no easy feat.
Both sides are experiencing a bad run of form of late, earning just two wins between them in their last six fixtures, respectively.
After a huge jump in performance in 2012, Martin O’Neill’s men have failed to score in three consecutive matches after netting three against Manchester City.
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Lee Cattermole missed the 0-0 stalemate against Wolves and is hoping to return to fitness in time for this weekend’s match after suffering a knock against Everton.
Villa have several concerns of their own, with Marc Albrighton, Ciaran Clark, Chris Herd and Stephen Warnock all battling to recover from injuries before Saturday.
The hosts won’t be able to climb anywhere in regards to league standings even if they secure victory this weekend but can distance themselves from the drop zone and move closer to the magic 40 point marker, although the total necessary for survival this season is expected to be lower than that.
The Villans are without a win in five matches which is largely down to their failures when going forward, failing to score in 31% of their home meetings.
It doesn’t help that Darren Bent is out for the rest of the season through injury but the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey and Charles N’Zogbia haven’t compensated well in the forward’s absence.
The Black Cats have found it considerably harder to defend when in unfamiliar territory this season and won’t face many better chances to get back to winning ways in this vital stage of the campaign than at Villa Park on Saturday.