Top 4 finish – still hope for Villa

Have Aston Villa blown their Champions League chances? Popular wisdom says yes with Martin O’Neill’s team seven points off of fourth spot and the bookies agree with odds of 20.00 plus on Villa finishing in the top four.

But we think they are being written off way too early.

Okay, the Villains have been extremely frustrating of late, with a string of home draws and a 7-1 battering at Chelsea.

But there is a very real chance that the whole situation could be flipped over by next Sunday afternoon with Villa taking over in fourth place.

They have an extra game this week among three extremely winnable fixtures – away to Portsmouth on Sunday, a trip to Hull in midweek and then a home derby against Birmingham next weekend.

Three wins would take Villa to 64 points and their Champions League-chasing rivals Man City and Tottenham both have a very tough week in store. City (currently on 62 points) host rivals Man United this weekend and then travel to Arsenal next Saturday, while Tottenham (61 points) are at home to Chelsea before a trip to United.

So even if you feel the men in claret and blue will not ultimately finish the season in fourth the odds seem sure to come in drastically over the next week.

Although the Betfair market on this is too small for any serious trading, a small wager on Villa now could easily be off-set next week to profit whatever the final outcome.

So if results go the Villains’ way this week, can they then go on to clinch fourth spot?

Going in to May they have a vital six-pointer at Man City where they will need, and be capable of, at least a draw. Meanwhile Spurs should beat Bolton at home.

And then there is a vital midweek match between City and Spurs at Eastlands, while Villa have no match and will be looking on and probably hoping for a draw.

If the Midlanders are in pole position going into the final day they should beat Blackburn at home while City are by no means guaranteed to win at West Ham, although Spurs will get three points at Burnley.

What about Liverpool? Well if Villa take 13 points from their last 15 then Liverpool would need to win all their remaining games to top them. And the Reds still have to face Chelsea at home, have a massive injury concern over Torres and are perhaps now more focused on winning this season’s Europa League.

Overall Aston Villa must hit a real run of form to achieve fourth place, and will need a few other results to go their way, but we definitely think this punt can give you some excitement for the remaining weeks of the season.

Best Bet: Top 4 finish 2009/10 Aston Villa @26.00 on Blue Sq or 23.00 on Betfair

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