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Aston Villa’s double chance claims lifted with Sturridge back

| 18.01.2014

Victory is Aston Villa’s most common result in Premier League away games this season and given their counting-attacking capabilities, there are certainly worse 12/1 bets this weekend than Paul Lambert’s team beating Liverpool.

After all, not only have Villa already won at league leaders Arsenal this season, but Lambert has never lost on his two top-flight visits to Anfield and this is a league fixture that Liverpool have only secured three points in twice in six attempts.

However, it may pay to be slightly less adventurous and accept the Aston Villa odds of 16/5 in the double chance market, which will be a winning bet if Lambert’s team simply avoid defeat.

Given Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal when these two met earlier in the campaign at Villa Park, it seems slightly strange to suggest that it is his return from injury that will work against Liverpool here.

But with Brendan Rodgers expected to bring him back into the starting line-up, this brings the assumption that Liverpool will return to a two-man strike force and a change in formation to a 4-2-2-2.

Hull have already beaten Liverpool this season when playing three central defenders and Villa are likely to line up the same way, meaning that there should always be a spare man to guard the space that either Sturridge or Luis Suarez will be looking to burst into.

Add in that Villa’s wing backs may decide to play fairly deep and it may be Liverpool’s full-backs that represent their best avenue of attack.

The other key for Liverpool is which two players Rodgers opts for in central midfield, with Steven Gerrard logically one against the opposition that he has scored more Premier League goals against than any other.

Picking Lucas alongside the skipper may leave Liverpool short of mobility against a three-man midfield, but would offer greater protection to a Reds defence that could theoretically find themselves two-on-two and quite high up the pitch against the raw pace of Gabby Agbonlahor.

Alternatively, Jordan Henderson would being more energy to the midfield and he would do a better all-round job of supporting attacks and getting back goal-side if Villa look to break quickly.

Liverpool’s odds are 1/4 to beat Villa and they have been far more dependable at home this season compared to last, having won nine of their 10 league games at Anfield.

The defensive statistics of the pair suggest this will be low scoring, with no team conceding fewer goals on their own patch than Liverpool and only Everton letting in fewer than Villa on the road.

However, rather than backing under 2.5 goals at 7/4, over 3.5 goals has the greater appeal at 21/20.

Only Manchester City have scored more home goals than Liverpool and Villa have put three past Arsenal and Southampton away from Villa Park, alongside scoring at least once in each of their last four games.

Villa finding the target again here is attractively priced at 1/1, especially with Liverpool only keeping a single clean sheet across their last five Premier League outings.

Meanwhile, a small play on the 2-2 draw could end up leading to rich rewards at 25/1 in the Premier League betting.