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Villa and Rams to take control

Villa and Rams to take control

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Aston Villa and Derby County can take the initiative in their Championship play-off matches against West Brom and Leeds United respectively on Saturday.

Villa are the form team heading into the play-offs, winning 10 games in a row to surge up from 11th in the table in early March to finish fifth, although they did draw with Leeds in their penultimate match before losing at home to Norwich City on Sunday.

Villa win and both to score @ 14/5

It took a while for Dean Smith to get his ideas across to his players after he succeeded Steve Bruce in October and they were beaten by the Baggies on home soil in February, but Villa can beat their Midlands rivals this weekend. Over 3.5 goals in the match can be backed at 49/20.

Albion have been under the caretaker charge of James Shan since parting company with Darren Moore two months ago and they have limped into the play-offs, losing three of their last seven matches.

If Villa can keep Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez quiet – they have 45 Championship goals between them this season – Smith’s team can take a giant stride towards returning to the top-flight, three years after they were relegated.

Derby to win 2-0 @ 11/1

Leeds completed the double over Derby, 9/2 to be promoted, this season although the victory at Elland Road was overshadowed by ‘Spygate’ after a member of Marcelo Bielsa’s coaching staff was caught outside the Rams’ training ground in the build-up to the game.

That incident is sure to lend a certain spice to Saturday’s game which is between two teams that were managed by Brian Clough, to contrasting levels of success.

Leeds ended this campaign poorly, losing four of their last eight games, and their failure to seal an automatic promotion spot after seemingly having it in the bag for most of the season could still be in the players’ minds.

In contrast Frank Lampard’s team won four and drew two of their last six matches and can take that momentum into the play-offs.

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Mark Race Having worked in the media for nearly 30 years, Mark knows his sport inside out and at all levels. An avid football fan, Mark also has serious knowledge of the tennis world and is quick to point out value bets in a number of other sports.

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