Aston Villa 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers - Villa come close but drop more points in their fight for survival
Douglas Luiz battling against Adama Traoré (Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images)

Aston Villa are left with a very familiar feeling as they fail to beat local rivals Wolves, with a Leander Dendoncker strike proving to be the difference between the two sides. 

A change in system

After an encouraging final 20 minutes against Newcastle United, Dean Smith succumbed to fan pressure and set his team out with two strikers in a 4-4-2 diamond formation. The change saw Keinan Davis partnered with Ally Samatta up top, with Jack Grealish occupying his preferred '10' role. 

Despite publicly scrutinizing Ezri Konsa after the Newcastle game, he opted to start him at right-back over Ahmed Elmohamady - who earned Villa a point at St James' Park. 

A resolute first half

In what can only be described as the new normal, both teams went into half-time break tied at 0-0, the fourteenth time since the Premier League's restart. 

Matt Targett was a casualty of the first half, who didn't manage any more than 11 minutes after suffering from a suspected hamstring injury. 

Despite Villa's only shot on target coming from Grealish with a tame effort down the barrel at Rui Patrício, Villa matched Wolves well - with only a minor scare coming when goalkeeper Ørjan Nyland managed to throw the ball behind himself to Diego Jota, who blasted the ball over the bar at what was a gaping goal.

Adama time

When the clock struck 60' Jota made way for former Villa winger Adama Traoré, and it only took Wolves a few minutes after that to take the lead.

Adama picked up the ball and ran unchallenged at the heart of the Villa defense, with the ball eventually falling to Dendonker - with the Belgian striking well with his left foot - comfortably beating Nyland who was fully stretched out.

 

Villa Fighting An Uphill Battle

Despite their best efforts, with John McGinn, Elmohamady, Trézéguet and Anwar El Ghazi coming on in an attempt to bring Villa level, Wolves looked far too comfortable - enjoying 52% of the ball, which was enough to see out the game.

After struggling to regain a foothold on the match, Villa and still sit 19th in the table, tied on points with Bournemouth and West Ham - both of which have a game in hand.

Villa travel away to Anfield to face Premier League champions Liverpool in the start of a difficult run of fixtures, with Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Everton all up next for Villa as they fight to avoid the drop. 

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