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Clean sheet rarity makes goals in Cardiff and Villa clash a safe bet

Cardiff City host Aston Villa with both sides in need of points, but keeping clean sheets is something of a novelty in the Welsh capital and for the Birmingham-based club.

In 2014 so far, the Bluebirds and Villans have managed just one shut-out apiece.

Villa earned their last clean sheet on New Year’s Day when they won up at Sunderland. Cardiff, meanwhile, kept Bolton Wanderers at bay in the FA Cup.

Given this glaring rarity at stopping the opposition from scoring, Coral offer even money on the total number of goals being over 2.5 in this game.

There are other reasons why this is such a safe bet.

Paul Lambert’s Villans have seen five of their last six matches contain three goals or more. For the Bluebirds, it’s a similar story in three of their previous five.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will expect a response after Cardiff conceded three second-half goals and lost the south Wales derby to bitter rivals Swansea last time out.

Somewhat curiously, both teams have the number 30 in common. The Bluebirds’ last dozen home games have contained precisely that number of goals.

Villa’s previous 12 trips have also seen 30 goals fly in, so both average out at 2.5 per match.

Hosts Cardiff start as 11/8 favourites for three points which, because of their inferior goal difference, may not be enough to lift them out of the relegation zone.

Solskjaer’s side are thus odds-on at 10/11 for the drop. Villa are 9/1 outsiders to go down.

Bluebirds hometown hero Craig Bellamy is the man most likely to score for the hosts if his record against the Villans is anything to go by.

Now 34, Bellamy has six goals against the West Midlands outfit in 14 appearances. Those strikes have contributed towards five wins for four different clubs.

Bellamy is great value at 7/2 to net at anytime.

Villa meanwhile, who have picked up 20 per cent more points on their travels than at home this season, are 15/8 for another away-day delight here. It’s 12/5 for the draw.

There is better value, however, on a win and both teams to score market. Punters can get 21/5 on Solskjaer’s side and an attractive 5/1 on Villa.

Another Cardiff subplot is playmaker Peter Whittingham turning out against the team where he began his career. Like Bellamy, he is a 7/2 chance to score at anytime here.

If it’s Villa you fancy then Christian Benteke apart, Leandro Bacuna is their next top-scorer with four.

With two in his last three appearances, versatile former Netherlands Under-21 international Bacuna is tempting at 6/1 to net anytime.