Despite defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool, we head into the Wolves fixture in high spirits.
This is now a Villa side growing in confidence and competitiveness game by game, having impressed many with decent displays against the current league champions, as well as leading the European Champions until the 87th minute.
With that said, this is [arguably] the kind of fixture that can change a first season back in the top flight from one of relegation scrap, to mid-table anonymity.
Indeed, depending upon the outcome, either side could end up anywhere between 10th and 17th, underlining both how tight the league is, but the fine margins at play.
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Wolves continue to trade on heavily on a notion of free-flowing football. However, there have been some murmerings of discontent, despite measured progress in the Europa League.
Whilst Wolves aren’t losing league games, they aren’t winning too many either. Though undoubtedly a decent side, Wolves are not ticking or caryring the same verve as previously. Whether this is a combination of additional European games, or their tactics and players have been found out, is unclear.
The effect of this is that any win for Villa would see us leapfrog them in the league, suggesting that there can’t in reality be much in it.
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This is a timely test for Smith, to see if Villa can translate the promise shown against far superior sides, into tangible points that will inspire hope of consolidating a position away from the bottom three in the division.
Any victory reinforces this notion of promise and progression.
Any defeat will prompt pause for thought across another international break. There are more looming difficult fixtures on the horizon, underlining why these such games must be approached ruthlessly and with the single mindedness of victory.
Score Prediction: Wolves 1-2 Aston Villa – With McGinn & Wesley the goalscorers
- Only Liverpool have lost fewer games than Wolves this term.
- Wolves have lost just once in eleven games – but that was to Villa in the EFL Cup.
- Villa last beat Wolves twice in a season in 2003/2004.
- Raul Jimenez has four goals in his last five games for the hosts.
- Wolves are dangerous in the 2nd half, scoring 86% of their goals.
- Villa have though conceded 15 of our 18 goals after the break.
- Villa have the best first half record, whereas Wolves have the worst.
- Wesley has four goals in his last three away games for Villa.
- Jack Grealish remains 50/50 – he’s trying to overcome a calf injury.
- Frederic Guilbert is expected to feature after a dead leg against Liverpool.
- Kienan Davis misses out with a hamstring complaint.
- Villa haven’t lost at Wolves in nine outings – the last coming in 1978.
- Villa have dropped 11 points from winning positions already this season.
- It’s 12 Premier League games since Villa’s last clean sheet.
- Key Facts Sources: BBC & Squawka
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