A few weeks ago, talks of Aston Villa promotion were difficult to get on board with. Roberto di Matteo’s Aston Villa often showed the capacity for dominance, sometimes even in long stretches of time, but also displayed a crippling inability to survive crucial periods unscathed. Di Matteo’s nine lives all eventually expired, replaced by English football veteran Steve Bruce. Since Bruce’s arrival, Villa have been a different team - confident and no longer intimidated by early deficits or late leads.
Di Matteo was sacked following Villa’s 2-0 defeat to Preston North End at the start of October. Bruce took over soon thereafter, and in the 6 matches since taking charge, he is unbeaten, winning three and drawing three. Villa fans are not the only ones taking notice of this uptick in play and results - Villa’s odds for promotion now sit at a mere 4/1. Shockingly, Villa’s 4/1 odds are the four-shortest in the league. Villa follows only Newcastle at 1/33, Brighton at 8/15, and Norwich at 7/4. While Villa’s odds are significantly longer than Norwich’s, Villa leads a large crowd of fringe contenders including Sheffield Wednesday, Reading, Fulham, Derby, and Huddersfield, all teams that are significantly higher on the table than Villa. Huddersfield, 12 spots above Villa, have odds twice as long as Aston Villa’s at 8/1. Birmingham, 11 spots above Villa, have odds over three times as long at 14/1. These kind of odds imply that insider confidence for Villa’s ability to translate glimpses of potential into consistent results is buoying. The seemingly plentiful resources of Dr. Tony Xia, Villa’s squad depth, and remaining Premier League talent also likely contribute to bookies’ confidence that a run up the table is likely.
Being a Villa fan over the past few years has forced even the staunchest optimist into questioning his position as one, but this kind of confidence in Villa is exciting. Hopefully the bookies are justified in their optimism. Villa might just have a memorable season after all.
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