The FA Cup quarter finals mean that there’s a much reduced Premier League programme on Saturday but there are still a couple of huge matches that could have a major impact on matters at the foot of the table.
At the Madejski Stadium, it could be a tense afternoon as Reading entertain Aston Villa in what is commonly termed a six-pointer and it’s the Royals, aided by home advantage, that command favouritism at 7/5 with BetVictor.
In the circumstances, the draw is likely to prove popular at 5/2 courtesy of Stan James but a decent case can be made for a Villa triumph, especially as Paul Lambert’s troops are available at a generous 21/10 (bet365).
Neither side can point to any consistent form but Brian McDermott’s men have been comfortably beaten in their last couple, which is worrying when you’re scrapping for points at the foot of the table.
By contrast, Villa’s last four league matches on the road have seen them run Arsenal close and pick up valuable draws at Everton, West Brom and Swansea. They were also unfortunate to emerge empty-handed against Man City on Monday and the fighting spirit they have demonstrated of late can see them snare a maximum haul in this one.
Also set to boost their survival hopes are QPR. Harry Redknapp’s charges have lost only two of their eight league matches in 2013, hardly relegation form and they did their chances of a miracle escape the power of good last weekend as they overcame a decent Southampton side.
Up against an off-colour Sunderland outfit on their own patch then, Rangers have to be fancied and Hills make them 13/10 to pick up another crucial three points.
Double on Aston Villa and QPR – 6/1 (Paddy Power)