United to make it six out of seven away draws

ASTON VILLA vs MANCHESTER UNITED

TOMORROW, 12.45PM, SKY SPORTS

ASTON Villa have struggled against Manchester United over the years but last season they pulled off an unlikely 1-0 win at Old Trafford and took a point at home. They have now drawn their past two home league games against the Red Devils, but you have to go back to 1995 for their last win against them at Villa Park.

The Manchester derby on Wednesday night was a disappointing contest in terms of quality, although United were definitely the better of the two sides and Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn’t have been too upset with a point. His side are yet to taste defeat in the league this season, but they have drawn half of their 12 games and five of six on the road.

Gerard Houllier has made a solid if unspectacular start to his career as Villa boss, but his side’s main problems have been away from Villa Park. They are unbeaten in six home games this season, but have drawn three of their last four and it would have been four of four had it not been for James Collins’ 89th minute winner against Blackpool on Wednesday.

United will be desperate to close the gap on Chelsea, especially as the champions should beat Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. However, both United and Villa are strong defensively and a draw looks the best option at 13/5 on Betdaq. Villa have shared the points in seven of their last nine hosting Big Four opposition since 2008/09, while United have taken a point from six of their past 10 trips to middle-third opponents.

There could also be some value in backing no goalscorer at a general 9/1. There have been two or fewer goals in three of the past four league meetings between these sides, while two of Villa’s last three home games have failed to produce a goal. Spread bettors should look to sell goals at 2.5 with Sporting Index.

POINTERS...
Draw at 13/5 on Betdaq
No goalscorer at 9/1 general
Sell match goals at 2.5 with Sporting Index

STOKE vs LIVERPOOL

TOMORROW, 5.30PM, ESPN

TONY Pulis has had a stressful week to say the least. Firstly, he had to witness some bizarre refereeing decisions at Sunderland on Saturday that effectively robbed his side of at least a point. The Potters then faced Birmingham in midweek and after taking a 2-0 lead were seemingly cruising, only to concede two quick goals before eventually claiming an 85th minute winner.

It’s been a difficult campaign so far for Pulis’ men, but that is mainly down to their poor away form which has seen them lose five of six. They are stronger at the Britannia Stadium and have drawn both games here against Liverpool since securing promotion.

Roy Hodgson will be pleased that his team have arrested their slide, although he’d have hoped to have made it four wins in a row at Wigan on Wednesday night. The win against Chelsea will have given them plenty of confidence, but Stoke is never an easy place to go and I don’t think the manager would be too upset with a point.

Since Stoke came up to the top flight two seasons ago, three of their four meetings against Liverpool have been draws and I fancy that trend to continue at 12/5 with Paddy Power.

It doesn’t look like being a high scoring game, either. There have been two or fewer goals in five of Stoke’s last eight home games against the Big Four and the same is true in eight of Liverpool’s last 13 trips to bottom-half sides. Back the 1-1 scoreline at 6/1 on Betdaq and sell goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index.

POINTERS...
Draw at 12/5 with Paddy Power
1-1 correct scoreline at 6/1 on Betdaq
Sell match goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index