Premier League Aston Villa vs. Stoke City Free Soccer Pick

Nikki Adams

Friday, February 20, 2015 7:03 PM GMT

Can Tim Sherwood lift Aston Villa out of the relegation zone and get them back on track in Barclay's Premier League? Find out as we preview Villa's clash with Stoke this weekend.

The Pressure Is On The Gaffer
Former Spurs manager, Tim Sherwood, is set to make his managerial debut in Villa's top-flight clash with Stoke City at the weekend. The Villans won at Britannia Stadium on opening day and now the claret and blues hope to sweep the series with a home win over the Potters, all while getting Sherwood's reign off to the best start possible.

Villa currently occupy 18th spot in the table on the back of an abysmal 5-7-13 record and 22 points. They are in desperate need of a lift having gone without a win since beating Leicester City 2-1 on December 7 and limping through their last ten games (0-3-7), the last five of which featured pathetic  losses as they were outscored 1-12 by the opposition.

When a group's morale and confidence is low, it's not a simple fix. The task before Sherwood is monumental, to put it bluntly. A fresh face,  voice, ushering in a new tactical approach and a likely reshuffling of the starting line up can go some way towards bringing about the desired results, but it's still down to the players to execute on the pitch.

 

Every Cloud....
On a bright note, Aston Villa defeated Leicester City 2-1 in the fifth round of FA Cup this weekend. Tim Sherwood was pictured by the Daily Mail celebrating the winning goal. His half-time team talk clearly made an impression as Villa's ensuing performance in the second half was more deliberate, quicker to the strike.

For the punter, it's a positive indication of what's to come from the claret and blues in the Sherwood era. A strategy previously showcased during his short stint with Tottenham, which apparently augurs well with bookies too as they tip Aston Villa as the marginal faves for their weekend date with Stoke.

There's an argument to be had whether the soccer betting line shows premature bonhomie towards Villa's new manager. After all, there's a distinct absence of results to go on. Then again, Villa's advantage is only nominal as they are matched on +163 soccer odds to win outright, a smidgen shorter than Stoke on +170 soccer odds, with the draw trading as high as +220. One could argue it's only symbolic posturing on the soccer odds board, a perfunctory recognition of the managerial change, but not exactly a ringing endorsement just yet.

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Stoke City On a Spin
Stoke City are sat in tenth place in the table behind a 9-6-10 record and 33 points, which includes a modest run of form home (5-2-5) and away (4-4-5). Most recently, they are after back-to-back 4-1 defeats: to Man City (Premier League) and Blackburn Rovers (FA Cup).

As if it's not painful enough to lose to the defending champions badly, the ultimate humiliation of losing to Championship side Blackburn is even worse. The loss to Man City is easily explained by the gap in class and quality between the Potters and the defending champions. Losing to the second-tier Rovers by an overwhelming margin – after taking the early lead behind a Peter Crouch header – was down to lack of discipline, which hinged on a Cameron red card that ultimately cost Stoke their FA Cup dreams.

The Potters are in a bit of a spin right now and the worry for their fans is that it could have a negative effect on their upcoming date with Aston Villa. Potters faithful had plenty to shout about a until a fortnight ago as the objects of their affection were playing solidly, even punching above their weight class with wins over the Gunners (3-2) and Everton (1-0) and a 1-1 draw over Man United, to name a few. If asked at the time, a win over Aston Villa would have been an almost sure bet, a solid soccer pick shouted from the rafters. Now, as doubt creeps into their ranks, it's not so. Far from it.

 

Soccer Betting Verdict
The reality about the task before Tim Sherwood is daunting: becoming Villa's saviour. Fortunately, he begins his tenure as the claret and blues boss on a weekend that includes both a home game and a fallible side. By the stats this season, Potters are undeniably better than the Villans. On recent form, though, there's a chink in Stoke's armour while Villa have a spring in their step. It remains to be seen how those realities converge.

In Stoke's case, this could be the perfect matchup to bounce back to winning form, which means contemplating their +170 soccer odds. After all, the Villans have lost their last five top-flight fixtures and a recently arrived Tim Sherwood has less than a week to turn things around.

In Villa's case, a complete overhaul can do wonders and, in turn, all that happened previously could go out of the window. Take Crystal Palace as an example, the honeymoon they are enjoying with Alan Pardew since he took over. Sherwood too could be in for a nice honeymoon.

There's good reason to salt both sides on your soccer picks, obviously. For our money, we're going with the safer option on the draw at +220.

Soccer Picks: Draw +220

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