Wolves vs Aston Villa: Pre-match analysis
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa at Molineux on November 10, 2019 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

In what will be a vital three points for either side, VAVEL looks ahead to the West Midlands derby game that sees Wolverhampton Wanderers play Aston Villa in the Premier League.

This is not the Black Country derby, nor is this the Second City derby, but take nothing away from the ferocity that greets both sections of fans when these two face off.

After a history of up and downs, both teams now find themselves in similar positions, both trying to secure Premier League football whilst striving for the prospect of European football. Neither side will be wanting to walk away from the Molineux with nothing on Saturday.

  • Forms ahead of the game

Two points separate the sides in the Premier League currently, with Villa sitting in 12th having two games in hand over Wolves who sit in 10th. Yet their first fixture against each other was in the FA Cup on 11th December 1886, with the club's both sharing a rich history together.

Since then, they have played each other in all competitions 128 times. Villa currently have the edge over Wolves with regards to total victories, winning 55 of their meetings, with a win rate of 43%. Wolves have only won 41, giving them a win rate of 32%, with the other 32 games panning out as draws. 

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Looking at recent seasons in both the Premier League and the Championship tells a slightly different story though. Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has been victorious in four of the last six league meetings, with Villa only managing to win one.

Villa boss Dean Smith has led his side to five victories out of their nine games so far, losing the other four. The Claret and Blue army also have the third best goal difference in the league, showing that they can score plenty of goals, but also keep them out. Yet they only have one win in their last five games, losing the other four.

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Wolves have also won five and lost four so far, but have drawn their extra two games. They have scored the second lowest amount of goals in the league outside of the bottom three, which is a statistic that is beginning to really hinder their progress. 

The 4-0 defeat to Liverpool has ruined their strong defensive record, but discounting that and the other 4-0 defeat to West Ham means that Wolves have only conceded seven goals in their other nine fixtures. They will need their defence to be solid to keep Villa out, as they may be only able to muster up only one goal themselves.

  • Key players to watch for Aston Villa

A man that is synonymous with Aston Villa is Jack Grealish. The Birmingham born midfielder has been in fine form for the club this season, rightly earning many plaudits along the way.

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He has bagged five goals and five assists so far, making him the club's second highest goal scorer and the leading assist maker this season. There is no doubt that when Grealish plays well, Villa play well and Wolves will need to find a way to nullify his effect if they are to get anything from the game.

New signing Ollie Watkins has been in fine form for the Villa, leading the club's scoring charts with six goals, with three of them coming against current Premier League champions Liverpool. His £28 million move from Brentford is definitely paying dividends. 

Interestingly, Watkins has won the most amount of aerial battles for the side, insinuating that he will be a handful for the Wolves' defence both on the ground and in the air.

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Another new signing Matthew Cash has been a vital cog in the Aston Villa defence this season. The 23-year-old has registered both the most tackles and the most interceptions for the club so far.

The £18 million signing from Nottingham Forest is showing why he was voted as their player of the season last year, but he will be tested by the pace and flair of the Wolves attack on Saturday.

  • Key players to watch for Wolves

Wolves were made to look very ordinary against Liverpool, but they will no doubt be looking to make amends on Saturday. It is unclear whether they will stick with experimenting with a back four or return to a familiar back three.

One player that has been a shining light for the team in old gold has been the young Portuguese international Pedro Neto. The 20-year-old winger has been very impressive for Wolves so far, providing vital goals and assists for the club.

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What is more impressive, is that Neto has made the second most interceptions for the team this season. This has been key in allowing Wolves to launch quick counter attacks, which is where they are most dangerous. The Villa fullbacks will have their work cut out against the young winger this weekend.

Willy Boly has been consistently very strong for Wolves in defence, having made the joint most clearances and interceptions for the club in all their eleven games. He has also won the second most aerial battles for the side, which will make his duals with Ollie Watkins very interesting to watch.

Villa will manage to get some shots at the Wolves goal and it will be Rui Patricio who will be standing in their way. The veteran goalkeeper has been outstanding for Wolves and gives his team full confidence in his ability to deal with any danger that comes. 

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Both Boly and Patricio will be instrumental in keeping Villa out on Saturday, which is something the team will need if they are to grab all three points. 

Overall

This will be a tight game, with both sides aiming to walk away with all three points. Recent head-to-heads favours Wolves, as well as a slightly better form going into the game. With Wolves still experimenting with their formation however, Villa will have every chance of putting one over the men from Molineux.

There have not been many 0-0 scorelines in their head-to-head histories, so we could be in for a classic derby match, albeit a quiet one from a fan's perspective unfortunately. 

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