Since these two clubs entered the Championship in August 2016, they have picked up the same number of wins: 17. Each week the bookies treat Barnsley as relegation strugglers and Aston Villa as promotion contenders, when results show there is little to separate them and a draw is 5/2 (3.50) .
The Tykes have won four of their five home games in all forms – and were unlucky not to at least draw the other against Ipswich in the second week of the season. Paul Heckingbottom’s men are 12/5 (3.40) to continue to thrive at Oakwell.
John Terry-led Aston Villa are 11/10 (2.10) to snatch all three points but there may be value in opposing goals; 16 of the Midlanders’ 53 Championship games have been a draw with under 2.5 goals scored. That would suggest a 30% chance of a repeat, but the 16/5 (4.20) on offer implies a probability closer to 24% and could be worth jumping on.
The same bet would have come off in Barnsley’s last game – a 1-1 draw at Preston – where Heckingbottom suggested his side defended well but lacked quality in the final third. His side have had just 10 shots on target in their last three games and are roundly happy to let their opponents have the ball.
Barnsley are 15/8 (2.88) to fail to score but if they do, it will most likely be through Tom Bradshaw. The ex-Walsall striker has scored the first goal in two games already this season and is 6/1 (7.0) to do so again.
At the other end, only one Championship goalkeeper has made more saves per game than Adam Davies and the defence in front of him put their bodies on the line with dogged determination. The Yorkshire outfit are 3/1 (4.0) for a clean sheet but they will hope for another comical intervention from Villa’s Scott Hogan.
On Tuesday the striker inadvertently blocked on the line a shot from his own teammate, Conor Hourihane, who should have scored his fifth goal of the season against Middlesbrough. Midfielder Hourihane is 14/5 (3.80) to score anytime at Oakwell, where he retains the fond affection of the home faithful.
Barnsley miss their key man’s quality from set pieces, but they have at least found a good replacement for the other man who left for B6 in January, James Bree. Dynamic right-back Jason McCarthy has won Player of the Year at his previous two clubs, Wycombe and Walsall. His high-octane displays sum up the commitment and hunger in this Barnsley side, which looks well-equipped to keep the misfiring Villans at bay.