Aston Villa vs AZ AlkmaarUEFA Europa League Conference, KO: 20:00 Nov 9, 2023, Villa Park
THE Aston Villa express train hit the buffers in the Premier League at the weekend but their European journey remains on track and a victory at home to AZ Alkmaar would see them plant one foot in the Europa Conference League knockout phase.
Villa's six-game unbeaten run ended on Sunday with a 2-0 loss at Nottingham Forest, busting the coupon of our man Slips Tips and plenty of other punters. It was only the second time all season that Unai Emery's side had drawn a blank and the Spaniard will be hoping it was just a bad day at the office.
His side remain just two points off the top four in the Premier League and they sit level on points with Legia Warsaw in their Conference League section, despite losing 3-2 to the Poles on a night when two bets landed for me.
That was more like the form that had made them one of the favourites to win the competition and Aston Villa now have the chance to do the double over AZ Alkmaar back in Birmingham.
Pascal Jansen's side are flying in the Eredivisie and sit second behind runaway leaders PSV Eindhoven after an unbeaten start to the season that has seen them drop just four points in 10 games.
But AZ Alkmaar's form in Europe has been poor since the start of the group stage, with a 1-0 win over Legia sandwiched between defeats to Mostar and Aston Villa.
A win in England would fire them right back into the mix though and even a draw might not be the worst result, given just three points separate all four teams in the group at the halfway stage.
How the bookies view it
Despite that weekend loss, Aston Villa remain heavy favourites for this one at a best 4/9 with Bet365. AZ Alkmaar are outsiders at a best 73/10 with VBet while the draw pays 19/5 at the same firm.
Head to head
Aston Villa still have a 100 per cent record against Dutch sides, with that 4-1 win in Alkmaar backing up a 2-1 win over Ajax in the UEFA Cup back in 2008.
Players to watch
Emery has used the Conference League games to rotate his squad a bit and could make changes in a bid to freshen things up. Jhon Duran delivered when I backed him to score in Warsaw and the Colombian looks good at 7/4 (Bet365) for anytime scorer if he gets another start here.
Evangelos Pavlidis has drawn blanks in his last two outings for AZ Alkmaar but it has still been a storming start to the campaign, with 14 goals in 18 appearances. The Greek striker is 11/4 with Bet365 for a goal and that looks a bit overpriced.
Anything else catch the eye?
Going for goals paid off for me in Alkmaar and we should see plenty of thrills in this one too. BTTS has been a profitable option all season with Villa as that bet has landed in 10 of their matches. It pays a best 22/23 with VBet for this one and combining it with over 2.5 goals in a bet builder pays 13/10 with Bet365.
Aston Villa won 15 corners at home to Mostar but we only saw five match corners when they beat AZ Alkmaar in Holland. That makes me think betting against corners could pay off in this one but I've yet to see any markets.
This UEFA Europa League Conference match between Aston Villa and AZ Alkmaar will be played on Nov 9, 2023 and kick off at 20:00. Check below for our tipsters best Aston Villa vs AZ Alkmaar prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.