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Wolves will have considered themselves slightly unfortunate to have lost by such a big margin to Man City on Tuesday night, with two of the league leaders goals coming after the 90th minute, and in truth Wolves remained very much in the game until then.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side now look destined for mid-table mediocrity this season, which is a shame for them having excelled and been among the European race for the last two seasons, though it looks more likely that Villa will be in that sort of race this year.
That hope took a massive hit when failing to beat rock bottom Sheffield United on Wednesday night, despite the hosts going down to 10 men before the hour mark.
That defeat shows just how important Jack Grealish is to their plans, and Dean Smith will be hoping the England Midfielder is fit again for this clash after a shin injury.
Indeed, they’ve lost four of the five games he’s missed since the start of last season, with a 38% decrease in output across those games too, and if he were to miss out here it’s difficult to see where chances are going to come from, with a passage of genius from Bertrand Traore the only real moment of creativity against the Blades in midweek.
That defeat to Man City was Wolves’ first in six league outings now as they’re starting to show a bit more consistency in the absence of Raul Jimenez, while playing middle-third sides has proven to be the source of a lot of their points this season, beating all of Southampton, Palace, Leeds, and Arsenal so far.
They have a miserly 0.55pts per game against the current top-six, their 1.29pts per game against the bottom-six has arguably been their main issue this season, though 1.82 against the sides in between those brackets give them reason for hope.
Villa First Team To Score
One standout aspect of Villa’s game this season is their defensive stability when taking a lead, which one can only imagine has come in some part from John Terry, with the former England captain being an instrumental figure in Jose Mourinho’s side from the mid 00’s that embodied that defensive approach.
Indeed, 11 of Aston Villa’s 12 wins have come to nil this season, with the exception being that 7-2 win over champions Liverpool back in October.
Amazingly, despite a slight resurgence from Wolves, they are certainly one of the slowest off the mark in the league.
In the 17 matches since Jimenez’s injury, they have only scored the first goal of the game once, coming from behind to win against Chelsea, Arsenal and Southampton.
That’s enough for us to back Villa to score first, considering only Spurs have scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes than the hosts.