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Expect attacking sides to produce fireworks 

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm Friday

It doesn't take much to turn around an early-season crisis and Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce will be feeling much happier after last weekend's 4-2 league win over Norwich was followed by a 4-1 EFL Cup victory over Wigan.

Bruce's charges, prominent in the Sky Bet Championship title betting ante-post, had taken only one point from their first three league matches.

Bookmakers expect a stiff test of Villa's recent resurgence at a Bristol City side whose solid start to the season continued with Tuesday's 3-2 win at Watford in the EFL Cup.

Lee Johnson made nine changes to his starting 11 for the cup tie - the Premier League side made a mere six - and the Robins are 31-20 to take three points off their illustrious visitors.

The match betting looks tricky given Villa's tendency to blow hot and cold in the early weeks of the campaign and a better bet could be the 4-5 that both teams score.

Villa have no shortage of defensive nous in the camp with Bruce as manager and John Terry arriving in the summer but they have conceded ten goals in their first six games this term.

Backers of both teams to score have collected in all but one of those matches and Terry's partnership with James Chester should be tested by a confident home side.

Bristol City flew out of the blocks on the opening day, scoring three goals in the first 30 minutes against Barnsley at Ashton Gate.

They followed up with a 5-0 home win over Plymouth in the EFL Cup and scored in the first five minutes of their next two fixtures against Birmingham (1-2) and Brentford (2-2).

Villa must be wary of City's fast starts but they have shown their attacking quality in the last week.

Conor Hourihane scored a hat-trick against Norwich while Henri Lansbury and Tottenham loanee Josh Onomah are also exciting attack-minded midfielders.

Teenagers Andre Green and Keinan Davis have also impressed in attacking roles and striker Scott Hogan has scored three goals in two EFL Cup outings.

Bristol City's last home game ended 0-0 but visitors Millwall created plenty of chances and left-back Joe Bryan hit the bar for the hosts.

Bobby Reid, thriving up front, scored his fifth goal of the season after coming off the bench at Watford and Robins fans could be treated to another rollicking contest.

Both teams to score



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Match in Focus

11:30 Su 25Feb BT3

Crotone v Spal

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Crotone have only scored three goals in their last six home matches
Expert verdict
Three successive defeats to nil have seen Spal get detached from safety but they can stop the bleeding by getting a point at the team immediately above them. Crotone blew their chance of opening up a gap with the bottom three by losing at Benevento last weekend while Spal have to be heartened by the manner of their 1-0 loss at leaders Napoli.