Aston Villa vs Wolverhampton Wanderers– Pre-game Assessment

Saturday, March 30, 18:30 – Villa Park

Referee: Paul Tierney

Let us start off with the one solid good omen.  The referee for tomorrow’s game at Villa Park, Paul Tierney, has only refereed one Villa game this season and it was our resounding win at Sheffield United in February when we won 5-0! 

The negatives are daunting. We have not beaten Wolves since December 2020 and, in that game, the winner came in “injury time” from a penalty kick. Of the other five games, we lost three and tied two. More recently, our home form has plummeted, Since our Premier League record win streak was broken by Sheffield United in December, our Villans have lost three of their five home games (to Manchester United, Newcastle, and Spurs) while the two wins were against lowly Burnley and Nottingham Forest.

Meanwhile, Wolves have improved their away form by winning two out of three (against Chelsea and Spurs) while their loss was at Newcastle.

All the other news is mixed.  Sure, we had an international break to rest and recuperate and we could benefit in having Jacob Ramsey available to play. Jacob picked up a knock early in the game at Luton four weeks ago.  A local boy and fan favorite, Ramsey was coming back to last season’s form after a lengthy injury spell at the start of the season.

That might make up for our Villans being without Matty Cash who tumbled off the field when playing for Poland and will be out for most of April.  That will likely force manager, Unai Emery, to play Konsa in his less favored right back position and insert either Lenglet or Diego Carlos in the right center back slot for Konsa.

Other than Cash’s knock, the international games worked out well, overall, for our Villans who saw Tielemans star as a goal scorer against England, counting both Belgium’s tallies in a 2—2 tie.  That might encourage Emery to play him in a more advanced role against Wolves.  Of course, that would need someone else to play the holding midfield role and Tim Iroegbunam might finally get his Premier League start in that capacity.

While Tielemans might play with more confidence in an advanced role, it is likely that our Ollie Watkins will not be distracted by not scoring for his country.  The consensus was that England’s lack of goals was more due to lack of build-up (Kieran Trippier, Luke Shaw, and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all unavailable to play due to injury). One goal from open play in two games was all England accomplished.

Wolves, like our Villans, have their own injury issues.  With Neto and Hwang both ruled out, that takes some teeth out of their offense.

Otherwise, this will be a typical derby game with a full contingent of away fans not afraid to be very vocal!  The Wolves fans have recent experience inspiring their team to be upstarts against luminaries such as Chelsea and Spurs, and there will be more of them at Villa Park.  Those wins made everyone notice what a great job Gary O’Neil has done in his first season with the club.  Currently in 9th position, they have an excellent shot at qualifying for a Europa spot with Brighton and West Ham ahead of them, but within range.

Our Villans, meanwhile, find themselves in a horse-race for the 4th place spot that will qualify them for the UEFA Champions League.  While 5th place might also qualify, there will be no guarantee.  Emery has recently pinned his hopes on riding the Premier League race as his primary focus for the obvious reason that our Villans are currently leading over Spurs and Man U. With no interlocking games, their fate is in their own hands.

With four difficult away games (Man City, Arsenal, Brighton, and Crystal Palace) they have to assume that every home game of their five is a must-win, starting with Wolves.  Fifteen points (and a total of 71 points) would go a long way to securing 4th.  If they win at home against Brentford, Bournemouth, Chelsea, after beating Wolves, even Liverpool will be beatable.  Remember our back-to-back wins over Man City and Arsenal!

With a solid win-streak going, our Villans would undoubtedly pick up some points on the road and that should be enough to see off Spurs and Man U.  Of course, that means Emery will have to instill a Cup Final mentality in the team for tomorrow’s game. 

Fortunately, our last home game was not the debacle against Spurs.  It was the midweek triumph four days later over Ajax, 4-0 ,with Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey opening the scoring.  They need more of that!

Result Prediction:

Prediction:  Aston Villa 3, Wolves 1

Predicted Villa Line-Up:

Aston Villa: (4, 4, 2) Martínez, Konsa, Lenglet, Torres, Moreno, Bailey, Iroegbunam, Luiz, Ramsey, Tielemans, Watkins.

Subs: Olsen, Digne, Carlos, Diaby, Zaniolo, Chambers, Rogers, Kesler-Hayden, Kellyman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *