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Aston Villa vs Stoke Picks – Stoke protect home field advantage on Saturday

Posted by Todd Shale on 3/11/2010 2:30:02 PM

Soccer odds – Pick Draw +215

Aston Villa was an online betting darkhorse to start the season, and they’ll holding firm as they try to stay in the hunt for a Champions League spot. They may face some stiff resistance on Saturday when they head to Stoke City, and Stoke is a far better team at home than they are on the road. The crowd may have a bigger hand in soccer than in any other sport, and Stoke will ride their fans to a hard-fought draw.

  • Aston Villa vs Stoke Picks: Villa +120; Stoke +200; Draw +215
  • What: Soccer betting
  • When: Saturday, March 13, 10:00 AM ET
  • Where Brittania Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, England
  • Key Stat Each side has won one and drawn one of their three meetings

The Storyline: Aston Villa vs Stoke Picks

Villa is just four points out of a Champions League spot, and they’ll be playing their first Premiership match since February 21st, when they beat Burnley 5-2 at home. Since then, they’ve lost to Manchester United in the Carling Cup final, but they’ve gotten past Crystal Palace and Reading in the FA Cup. Stoke were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea, and they were held to a 1-1 draw at Burnley on Wednesday. Stoke is 10 points behind Villa in 11th place, but they’ve played the Villans well recently, and this is Villa’s first trip to the Brittania Stadium since August 2008, when they fell 3-2.

Offensive Matchups: Aston Villa vs Stoke Picks

Villa has scored 37 goals in the Premiership, but they’re coming off a four-goal haul at Reading in the FA Cup, with John Carew notching a hat trick. It would be good for Carew if he could keep that up in the league, as Gaby Agbonlahor leads the way with 11 goals, while Carew, James Milner and Ashley Young have four apiece. When Agbonlahor and Young are rampaging down the wings, that makes it much easier for Carew and Emile Heskey up front.

Stoke has scored 28 goals in the league this year, led by a team-high four from Tuncay Sanli, but it’s strange that James Beattie can’t get a game in for Stoke with their scoring problems. Dave Kitson is preferred to Beattie when Stoke goes with two up front, but Beattie hasn’t gotten on in three games, and in four of the last five. Their big threat comes from the long throw-ins of Rory Delap.

Betting Edge: Aston Villa

Defensive Matchups: Aston Villa vs Stoke Picks

Villa has allowed a league-low 21 goals, but they’ve allowed four in their last two matches in cup competitions. They haven’t had a clean sheet for seven straight matches overall, and they seem to be having a problem against teams with speed on the flanks.

Stoke has given up 33 goals in the league, and the defense has just been inconsistent, but they fight hard. Robert Huth and Abdoulaye Faye are intimidating in the middle, but they don’t have much speed and can be caught out of position, which isn’t good for their sportsbook odds.

Betting Edge: Draw

Notable Injuries: Aston Villa vs Stoke Picks

Nigel Reo-Coker (ankle/foot) should be back by the end of the month, but not this week.

Ricardo Fuller (back) will be back soon as well, and Stoke badly needs another striker.

Betting Edge: Draw

Totals: Aston Villa vs Stoke Picks

Two of the three meetings between these two have gone over the posted total, and Villa has been in fine goal-scoring form, but they’ve scored just 14 of their 37 goals on the road. Stoke has scored 20 goals at home as opposed to eight on the road. This should be a low-scoring affair

Pick: Under 2.5

Betting Prediction: Aston Villa vs Stoke Picks

The smart play is a draw here, as Villa showed last week at Reading that they can go into another team’s stadium and turn on the style. But Stoke are a better team than Reading, and they always put up a good fight at home. Carew scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win for Villa at home on December 19th, but Stoke battled hard and were unfortunate to come away empty. They’ll snatch a point on Saturday thanks to their crowd and a battling sensibility.

Todd's Pick: Draw +215

Get Todd’s sports betting picks on the “Beautiful Game” each week in the Betting Edge at BetOnline.

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