Aston Villa vs. Leicester City Best Bets
Last Time Out:
Aston Villa crushed Liverpool 7-2; Leicester City lost 3-0 to West Ham United.
Leicester City hammered Aston Villa 4-0 on March 9 at King Power Stadium in Leicester.
About the Matchup:
The Cinderella story of 2020 runs into the Cinderella story of 2015, as Aston Villa has easily won its first three games this season and dreams of emulating Leicester's miracle run from five years ago when the Foxes went from one game above relegation to winning the Premier League. Obviously, it's a long way to go between now and the end of the season, but Villa already appears a much stronger side than it did a season before, scoring 11 goals in three games. Scoring goals has never been an issue for Leicester City, but preventing them has been a real problem. The Foxes opened the year by shutting out newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion, but against teams that were actually in the Premier League last season, the Leicester defense has been shredded, conceding seven goals in its past three matches. With Villa's attack looking resurgent after its struggles a season ago, can Leicester find a way to outscore its West Midlands foe?
Scouting Aston Villa:
A year ago, Aston Villa struggled to keep its head above water in its first year back in the Premier League. The Villains didn't have much of an attack to speak of, scoring just 41 goals in 38 matches and failing to score in four of their first six matches after the restart to the season. Truth be told, if not for a fortunate draw with Sheffield United where goal-line technology failed to work properly, Villa would have found itself back in the Championship. But they survived the season, and a year of Premier League cash has made a world of difference to this side. In the offseason, the Villains poached Ollie Watkins from Championship side Brentford and found a home for Chelsea's odd man out Ross Barkley, and the additions really paid off in the rout of Liverpool. Watkins put his stamp on his new club with a hat trick, while Barkley wasted no time establishing himself in the lineup by scoring in his first match with Villa. With Captain Jack Grealish now under contract until 2025 — and proving his worth with three goals already this season — this is no longer a side that's merely happy to be in the Premier League. This is now a young, confident team that genuinely believes that it can compete with the best in the league, and so far, it's been proven right. Dating back to last season, Villa comes into this match riding a seven-match unbeaten streak in the Premier League, and they've pulled out wins over the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool in that stretch.
Scouting Leicester City:
When you're a big club, as Leicester City has become since its championship, those international match days can really sting. Leicester found out the hard way just how painful an international match day can be, as their top two defensive backs, Jonny Evans (Northern Ireland) and Caglar Soyuncu (Turkey), picked up injuries last week and will most likely not be available for the Foxes against Aston Villa. That's a significant problem for head man Brendan Rodgers, as his side has been giving up goals left and right over its past three matches. Against teams that competed in the Premier League last year (read: everyone Leicester has faced except West Brom), the Foxes have given up no fewer than two goals per match, and things bottomed out for Leicester when the attack went south, and West Ham earned a 3-0 win against them. The good news for Rodgers is that England manager Gareth Southgate opted not to use the Foxes' top two attackers, Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes, so the Leicester attack has had a full week off to recuperate after the shutout at home to West Ham. That could be crucial against a Villa defense that already has two shutouts to its name in three matches. But if Rodgers can't get a better performance out of his defense, the attack isn't going to be good enough to matter.
Dan's Score Prediction:
With Leicester's defense both a mess and hobbling, this is the time to back Villa to find the net multiple times. However, I think Vardy and Barnes can keep the Foxes in this match, which should feature many chances for both sides. I'm going to back Villa to keep its perfect run going with a 3-2 victory at +2500.