Can struggling Portsmouth end Villa’s run of away wins?
Portsmouth/Aston Villa, 8pm, Sky Sports 2, free £10 bet
Last season just three points separated these two sides at this stage. With sixteen to play, Portsmouth are already twenty short of Aston Villa in 2008/09. Both sides failed to impress against Championship opposition in the FA Cup, but Martin O’Neill’s side are unbeaten in ten league games. Tonight, however, will be the first time this season that they will not be able to utilise their “genius” Ashley Young.
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A WORRYING HESKEY TREND
Emile Heskey has never scored a goal on any of his five debuts for club or country (Leicester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wigan and England), but more worryingly, none of his first appearances at his last three clubs ended in victory. Wigan lost 2-1 to Newcastle in his debut there while Liverpool and Birmingham were both held 1-1, the latter of which came away to Portsmouth.
…AND THERE’S A WORRYING YOUNG ONE TOO
Since the start of the 2007-08 season, Ashley Young has only missed one game, a 2-1 defeat away to Fulham last February. Prior to that, Villa had been unbeaten for nine league games while Fulham had been unbeaten in twelve.
VILLA’S AWAY RECORD
Aston Villa have won five consecutive away games, something they had last achieved in May 1998. If they win tonight it will be the first time in Premier League history that they have won six in succession. Villa are one of only two clubs, the other being Bolton, who are yet to experience an away draw, which is odd considering they, alongside Liverpool, have drawn more home games than anyone else (five).
PORTSMOUTH’S WINLESS RUN
Pompey have gone six Premier League games without a win, although the last time they went longer than that without picking up three points was at the start of 2006, when Harry Redknapp led them through an eight-game winless streak. The South Coast side have won just two of thirteen league games under Tony Adams.
VILLA AT FRATTON PARK
Aston Villa have won on just one of their last eight visits to Fratton Park, taking just two points from their last three. Five of those encounters have finished level, but Villa’s lack of away draws may render that outcome unlikely tonight.