There are still 15 games remaining in the Premier League, but for some teams the specter of relegation is looming already. Aston Villa is standing on the 17th place, just one spot away from a position that would see them playing in the lower echelon in 2014. Except for Queens Park Rangers who appears to be doomed, their rivals are all capable of overtaking them with minimum effort. Home pitch advantage is pretty much all they’ve got left, and it is particularly important not to leak points against Newcastle.

The reason for why this can easily be regarded as a six-points fixture, is that the two teams are separated by a single point and both of them are struggling to consolidate their position. Another thing that they have in common is the fact that the injury list is growing wider, and the midfield is made mostly of replacements. Results speak for themselves, as Newcastle won just one of the last 10 games, and conceded a record number of goals during the span.

Traveling to Birmingham for a match against the best local team is definitely worrisome, especially with the head to head record being dismal. It’s been more than five years since a traveling team won a match, and in the overwhelming majority of cases, it was the hosts who prevailed. Punters might be tempted to back Aston Villa tonight, and the odds are definitely attractive, but the hosts miss Delph, Albrington, Herd, Gardner and Dunne. While their offensive is intact, the defensive area is full of gaps that the hosts will have to close on a short notice.

A very similar situation is puzzling Newcastle, a team who has all its strikers fit to play but lacks a competitive midfield. The counterattack can be a very powerful weapon in this context, and with both teams having fast strikers, things could easily spin out of control. Newcastle has a reputation of a team who concedes a lot of goals away from home, despite the fact that they score a couple of their own.

The stakes couldn’t be higher and the pressure will only aggravate the fitness issues that have been responsible for a string of negative results. Punters need to choose between backing the hosts at full stakes at odds of 2.05 with Pinnacle Sports and betting on more than 2.5 goals to be scored at identical odds. An interesting hedging strategy involving bets on both outcomes should be considered, because the chances of this match ending in a low scoring draw are insignificant.

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