Three defeats in a row for the hosts
The Bees had nearly two weeks off following their 2-1 victory over Watford on December 10th, but since their return, they have played three and lost three.
A 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and a 1-0 loss to Man City in the league can be forgiven, but they would have been mightily disappointed to have been beaten 2-0 at Brighton on Boxing Day.
Nevertheless, Thomas Frank will be pretty delighted with his team’s 2021, as not only did they complete their promotion from the Championship, they have taken 20 points from their opening 18 Premier League fixtures – giving them a nine point cushion to the relegation zone.
Frank has plenty of players missing for the visit of Aston Villa on Sunday, with the likes of Zanka and Josh DaSilva still injured. In better news for the Bees, Christian Norgaard returns from suspension, and he will be back in the centre of a five man midfield.
Europe on the agenda in 2022 for Villa
Aston Villa returned from their own Covid hiatus on Boxing Day, and they too suffered a defeat to Chelsea. They played pretty well in that 3-1 loss though, taking the lead early on, before conceding two penalties and a Romelu Lukaku goal.
Things are still looking good with Steven Gerrard at the helm though, and Villa start the year in 12th place, still just about close enough to the European places to have a chance of making them.
Tyrone Mings is suspended following his fifth booking of the campaign, but given some of his performances this season, I wouldn’t have that as a huge negative. Other than Mings, Gerrard has most of his first XI available, as it stands.
This is quite a tight betting market with the visitors trading at around the 2.427/5 mark on the Betfair Exchange. The hosts are 3.39/4 and the draw is 3.412/5.
The first thing to consider is the availability of players, and Villa hold the advantage in that regard, as the Bees have more first teamers missing.
Recent results of both teams have been mixed, with wins being mixed in with defeats, but one common theme is that they have both still been playing pretty well.
The stronger side is definitely Aston Villa though, and in their three away matches since, they have won twice – at Palace and Norwich.
The hosts have recorded victories in two of their last three in front of their own fans, but they have also lost four of their last six. Therefore I like the Villa win here, as 2.427/5 seems slightly too big.
The Betfair layers aren’t expecting a huge amount of goals at the Community Stadium, with Under 2.5 Goals being available to back at 1.84/5 on the Exchange. The Over is 2.186/5.
Over the course of the entire season so far, both are in the bottom half when it comes to how many goals their matches are averaging.
Aston Villa have an average of 2.89, with 11 of their 18 finishing with three or more, but since Gerrard was appointed manager, three of their seven have gone Under 2.5.
Brentford have a lower average at the 2.56 mark, and 10 of their 18 have seen Under 2.5 backers collect. It is worth noting however that three of their last five here have either ended 2-1 or 1-2.
This is a no bet market for me, but I wouldn’t put you off another 1-2 scoreline, which can be backed in the Correct Score market at 11.010/1.
For my Bet Builder on the Betfair Sportsbook, I am going to go with Under 3.5 Goals, an Ezri Konsa Shot on Target, Aston Villa +1 Corners on the handicap, and Ollie Watkins to Score any time.
All of that adds up to a massive 43.84, and if it comes in, it will definitely be a great way to start 2022.
Konsa is dangerous from corners, and he has already registered six shots on target this term, and Villa are doing much better when it comes to corners taken this year.
Key Opta Stat
Aston Villa have won four of their last five Premier League away games against promoted sides (L1), more than they had in their previous 22 such games in the competition (W3 D8 L11).