Big match of the night is in the Capital One Cup where Bradford City play host to Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa in the first-leg of their semi-final.
The Bantams have already knocked out Premier League opposition in Wigan and Arsenal, both on penalties, to reach this stage. But this time they’ll need to overcome their more illustrious opponents over 2 legs which will surely be a step too far.
For Villa it’s a chance for their young squad to reach a major final and for Lambert that might be enough to stave off the threat of the sack following a run of awful results that saw them lose 8-0, 4-0 and 3-0 over the Christmas period. Since then they seem to have steadied the ship with a win and a draw and let’s not forget that prior to that run they were unbeaten in six, which included wins over Liverpool and in this competition a 4-1 win at Norwich.
Lambert will also be boosted by the return of Darren Bent to the scoresheet on Saturday. The England cap has been left out recently after apparently falling out of favour but his return to the fold could be very timely. He’s 9/2 (Bet365) to open the scoring tonight. He may be ousted to the bench though in favour of Christian Benteke. The Belgian is the club’s top scorer with 9 goals and is 4/1 fav (Boylesports, Sportingbet) to net the first of the game. For value though it could be beneficial to look at Andreas Weimann as first scorer. The young Austrian has banged in 7 already this season and is 13/2 (Paddy Power) to score first tonight. To score anytime it 2/1 at Paddy Power.
On the match odds I think Villa, if they turn up with a strong starting XI and the right attitude, look a decent price at just short of evens. Lambert will be keen to try to put the tie to bed early so that he can focus on preserving their Premier League status. If pushed I’d go with the Premier League side to sneak the win at 19/20 with Bet365.
8 out of the last 10 semi-final first-legs have been won by a single goal (the others a draw and 4-1 win for Spurs over Burnley). Villa to win by a single goal is 29/10 at Ladbrokes and offers a bit more value.
Aston Villa to win by 1 goal 29/10 (Ladbrokes)
Andreas Weimann to score anytime 2/1 (Paddy Power)