Last week, we spent more than 4,000 words talking about the bottom of the table. I ended up coming to the conclusion that Aston Villa were unlikely to succumb to relegation, but not because they were all that good. Rather, it's a matter of having so many teams between them and the bottom three, and those teams being so outright terrible.
But it occurred to me today that perhaps it would be interesting to see what people who have money on the line have to say about Aston Villa right now. It's time to turn to the bookies. These are the people who put highly advanced computer programs to work trying to figure out the outcomes of pretty much anything. If they mess up, it could cost them millions of pounds. So it stands to reason that their view is at least worth considering.
I went ahead and used two sites to get my odds, Bet365.com and paddypower.com. Neither are endorsed by me, 7500 to Holte, or SB Nation. They just happen to be the first two sites I went to, and two of the most powerful betting sites in England. Let's see what they have to say:
Well here's the big one. Both sites agree with what we've been saying all along, that Villa are unlikely to drop. Bet365 gives 8/1 odds, while PaddyPower gives 9/1. On both sites, that makes Villa the 4th-least likely team to be relegated, out of 11. Only Swansea City, West Ham, and Hull City are more likely to survive this season according to the bookies.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, both sites also agree that Fulham and Cardiff City are the two teams most likely to drop. The surprise - at least as far as the table is concerned - is that both sites then skip Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion to declare Crystal Palace the third team most likely to spend next year in the Championship. Given their three wins in their past five matches and the fact that they still have a match in hand, that struck me as a bit of a surprise. Apparently still having to face Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, and Manchester City is hurting their odds a bit.
To Avoid Relegation
It's just a bit of a twist, but it's interesting to see how things change when you look at avoiding the drop rather than being dropped. From this vantage, it seems more clear that none of the books expect Villa to finish in the bottom three. If you'd like to show your team spirit and place a bet on Villa's safety, you're not going to get much of a return if you're correct: only 1/14 odds at Bet365 and a relatively astonishing 1/80 at PaddyPower. At that point, it makes you wonder what Bet365 knows that PaddyPower doesn't.
The only way you're going to see a nice return on this bet is if you lay some money of Cardiff and Fulham and they somehow claw their way out of the muck. On Bet365 they've got 5/2 and 2/1 odd respectively, while those numbers are 2/1 and 15/8 on PaddyPower.
Unfortunately, these odds rule out the prospect of betting both ways on Villa. Bet £1 on each at Bet365 and you could stand to net £7 if Villa are relegated, but in the likely scenario that they stay up, you're going to lose a bit more than .90. It's as if the books have this stuff figured out.
This weekend against Norwich
While we're here, we might as well take a look at what they've got to say about Villa's chances against the Canaries this weekend. Villa are an even 1/1 to beat Norwich City according to Bet365 while PaddyPower will give you slightly better 11/10 odds. To simply see a point, you can get 23/10 at Bet365 and 12/5 at PaddyPower. So unsurprisingly, Villa are the favorite this weekend. The fact that they seem to be getting a bump for playing at Villa Park makes you wonder how much Villa those supercomputers have actually watched this season!
So, would you take any of the bets here? Let us know how you're playing your money in the comments!