With half the 2020-21 season gone, Aston Villa are flying in the Premier League. Here, Peter Watton, from matched betting specialists OddsMonkey, takes a look at what the bookies are predicting for the Villains by the time May comes around.
As an Aston Villa fan, your football club has no doubt been a glowing light among the doom and gloom of the past year. Compared to the escape from relegation last season, the Villans have turned things around to the point that they are still currently in the conversation for the league title at the halfway stage — a remarkable turnaround.
But, how far can this Villa side go? And, can they maintain their remarkable form in the second half of the season? In this article, I’m going to take a look at what the bookies think and whether or not their predictions are worth their salt.
How are things going?
At the time of writing, Aston Villa are sitting in 8th place in the league on 29 points. However, this is somewhat of a false position as the club currently have one or two games in hand on most of the teams around them, which, if won, should see them push upwards into the European spots.
This has chiefly been thanks to many players upping their game, like Jack Grealish, whose 8 assists so far have only been bettered by Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne. Ollie Watkins’ return of 7 goals is also worthy of a mention, having only just made the step up from the Championship.
In terms of how things are going compared to last season — it’s night and day. After 17 matches in 2019-20, Villa only had 15 points on the board, sitting just above the relegation zone in 17th place. This time around, they’ve almost doubled that total at 29 points. They have really picked up where they left off from their run of form at the tail end of last season. In recent years, the only turnaround in fortunes I can think of that’s been more dramatic is when Leicester escaped relegation in 2013-14, then kept that form going into their famous title-winning run of 2014-15.
How are Aston Villa’s title chances?
Though the bookies are not currently backing Villa to be serious contenders for the title at 150/1, their games in hand could propel them right into the mix if won. The overall consensus seems to be that while the team have improved a lot, the level of consistency required to push for the title to the very end of the season is beyond them. Many expect a run of inconsistent form to set in that will see the club fall away from the big clubs at the top.
But really, who’s to say? It all depends on how those games in hand go as to whether Villa have a platform for success in the second half of the season. Everybody said that Leicester would end up capitulating when they went on to win the title, which just goes to show that you can write teams off at your peril — they might just prove you wrong.
What about Europe?
The bookies have Aston Villa as 12/1 to finish in the top-four this season, while also pricing them at 7/2 to secure a top-six position. These odds continue to reflect the bookies’ unwillingness to back the club as a genuine contender, instead favouring the big clubs and other outsiders like Everton and Leicester to finish above them. Villa are expected to squeeze out Arsenal though, who are priced at longer odds, showing that the bookies are willing to back them over some “big” sides.
Again, I would say that these odds are probably a little harsh on Villa, especially considering that the games in hand they have over some of these teams. The bookmakers will always play it safe by going with the sides who have proven success at this level, but you can expect the odds to significantly shorten if the club can carry on its good form and win those games in hand.
Despite what the odds are saying, I think we can all agree it’s more enjoyable watching Villa compete for Europe rather than battling relegation. At the moment the club is 10/3 on finishing in the bottom half of the table (11th–20th), never mind the relegation places, so the bookies are in agreement that the drop is definitely a distant nightmare.
Aston Villa are in a strong position going into the back half of the season, keeping in touch with the pacesetters while patiently awaiting those two games in hand. How the club performs in those extra matches could be pivotal, but I expect the Villains to be firmly competing among the European places by the time May rolls around.