Preview: Aston Villa vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Fresh from an impressive and thoroughly deserved victory over Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa return to the West Midlands to tackle local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in Wednesday’s Premier League derby.
Unai Emery’s side posted a 2-0 victory over the Lilywhites in their most recent match, while the visitors were undone in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Unai Emery may have failed to make waves during his time at Arsenal, but Gooners up and down the country rejoiced in seeing their former manager lead Aston Villa to a dominant success over Tottenham, whose woeful attacking performance certainly made life easier for the Lions.
With 50 minutes on the clock, Hugo Lloris spilled Douglas Luiz’s long-range effort into the path of Ollie Watkins, who set up Emiliano Buendia to fire home, and Luiz got in on the act himself later in the second half following a delightful pass from John McGinn.
The Emery revolution is gathering pace at Villa Park, but the Lions remain outside of the top half for the time being and enter their first home game of the New Year sat 12th in the standings – three points worse off than 10th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion.
Collecting nine points and racking up eight goals from their first four Premier League games in charge under Emery has turned some heads, and only three of Villa’s last 10 Premier League home games have ended in defeat, but a bad omen has arisen for the more superstitious fans.
Indeed, Villa have remarkably suffered seven consecutive Premier League defeats to teams beginning with the letter W in Watford, Wolves and West Ham United, but ending that streak and putting another ‘W’ on the wins column is firmly on Emery’s agenda here.
Unfortunately for Wolves, there was to be no ‘W’ next to their name after their New Year’s Eve battle with Manchester United, who withstood pressure from Julen Lopetegui’s men before the sucker punch arrived in the 76th minute.
After being dropped to the bench for being late to a team meeting, Marcus Rashford’s impact substitution paid dividends for the Red Devils, as the England international struck the only goal of the game and had a second ruled out for handball not long after.
There was plenty for Lopetegui to be encouraged about at Molineux, but a 10th defeat of the season leaves Wolves in an increasingly perilous position near the foot of the table, currently sat in 19th place and one point worse off than 17th-placed West Ham United.
Another Rayan Ait-Nouri vs. Everton moment would be the perfect tonic for a Wolves side who can only boast one win from their last 12 Premier League away matches, and they remain the division’s lowest goalscorers with just 10 strikes to their name all season long.
Wolves enjoyed back-to-back wins over Aston Villa in the 2021-22 season, posting a 3-2 success at Villa Park before a 2-1 triumph at Molineux, and the hosts’ Premier League winless run against Wolves at home now stands at a rather alarming six matches.
Aston Villa Premier League form:
Aston Villa form (all competitions):
Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League form:
Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions):
We say: Aston Villa 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolves should fancy their chances of causing Villa a couple of problems if Luiz and McGinn are not quite at full fitness, while Traore in particular ought to feel confident of getting the better of Lucas Digne out wide.
A continued lack of goal threat should bedevil Lopetegui’s side once more, though, and with the feel-good factor in full effect around Villa Park, we expect Emery’s men to further their top-half charge and deepen Wolves’ relegation woes further.