Aston Villa host local rivals Wolverhampton Wanders on Saturday and will be looking to better their relegation rivals West Ham and Bournemouth, who’ve both suffered a defeat at the hands of their opponents this season.
Villa come into this game after what can only be described as a perplexing 1-1 draw away to Newcastle United. In my last preview, I optimistically predicted a 2-1 win for Dean Smith’s men, labelling that game as a ‘must win’ – given how hard Villa’s final run of fixtures is.
As predicted, Smith made some changes but didn’t tinker with the formation which saw Villa look comfortable and enjoy a host of chances in the first half. Not only was there more of an effort to create chances, but for the first time in a long time we saw the signature Dean Smith pressing and attacking philosophy.
In typical fashion, Villa fell apart when it counted most – despite Kortney Hause and Tyrone Mings putting in a generally impressive performance against a pacey Newcastle attack, yet seemingly fell apart as soon as Andy Caroll stepped onto the pitch…
The positioning of Mings and Hause occupied for the throw-in which lead to the goal is nothing less than disgraceful. With not one, but four players around Andy Caroll, which gave Dwight Gayle free roam of the pitch and allowed him to score with his second touch of the ball.
Making A Change
The two Villa subs, Conor Hourihane and Ahmed Elmohamady, combined to put Villa level from a corner – if I’m being honest it was a rather poor ball in from Hourihane, with Elmohamady heading home as Jonjo Shelvey blocks Martin Dúbravka’s view on the line.
Not only did Elmohamady make a difference by getting on the scoresheet, but Villa benefitted so much from playing a genuine fullback in their correct position. Ezri Konsa isn’t a right-back, Villa squandered many an opportunity in the first half by passing the ball out to Konsa on the overlap.
Dean Smith reported that Frederic Guilbert is back in contention, which is a huge benefit for Villa, but it’s time Smith rewards those who’ve performed well with a start, it’s safe to say Elmohamady deserves his opportunity.
Hunted By The Wolves
Villa have won two of their previous five meetings with Wolves, with the most recent win coming this season in the Carabao Cup at Villa Park – Villa cruised past what was essentially Wolves’ youth team.
Last time we faced Wolves in the league at Molineux Villa suffered a disappointing 2-1 loss in a game that had plenty of action.
Whilst Villa have only managed two points from a possible nine, we’re constantly being gifted chances to claw ourselves out of the bottom three. Wolves have kept it tight near the bottom with their wins against Bournemouth and West Ham.
Before the lockdown Villa were two points away from safety, it’s now only goal difference which is keeping us from safety. Whilst I think that it will be a lot to ask of this Villa team to beat Wolves, if we have any chance of survival it’s important that we take a point (at least).
Villa started well against Newcastle and faded slightly in the second half, given how Wolves generally grown into the game and take it up a gear in the second half, its important that Villa capitalise in the first half and take their chances when they come.
It’s going to be a strange game without fans, whilst the players are used to it now – in a game such as this, with it being a derby type game, the fans make such a difference. The atmosphere at Molineux for the reverse fixture was very hostile which benefitted the home side.
Remaining as optimistic as one can when sat 19th in the table, I’m predicting a 1-1 draw, with goals coming from Jack Grealish and Raul Jimenez which is currently available at 48.00* on the FansBet Bet Builder.
About the Author
Dan Morgan is an Aston Villa season ticket holder and follows the team home and away.
An aspiring sports journalist and football writer, he hosts Heart of the Holte’s podcast ‘The Villa Filler’ as well as writing and editing for Heart of the Holte.
You can follow Dan on Twitter at @danmorgi34
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