The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Wolves 2018
After recording a fairly straight-forward away victory on Tuesday, it’s a much different test this weekend.
Wolves have suffered a short spell of poor form over the past couple of weeks, but got back to winning ways on Tuesday, also recording a 3-0 away win.
If Villa are intent on automatic promotion or even making a last ditch effort on the Championship title, this is a game they’ll have to win.
Fulham managed to beat Wolves at home recently, but Villa will have to play at a level they have rarely reached even when they’ve been winning.
3rd in the league table with the 4th best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 4, D 1
1st in the league table with the best away record.
Last five matches away: W 2, D 2, L 1
“I said at the start of the season that a club like ours has to be there or thereabouts. With 10 games to go we are there. How far we can go, who we can catch, depends on us.
We’ve got Wolves at home, Cardiff at home, Derby at home – we’ve got all the teams around us so it’s in our hands. Bring it on.”
[PS – It’s not currently in our hands]
Steve Bruce on the Wolves away game
“Certainly confidence wise we’re a lot further down the road. We’ve found a rhythm since then.
“James Chester said so in the week, and if he’s saying that then I believe him.
“And the team has been more confident and more settled, despite picking up many injuries to key players.
“Jack Grealish is back now, Jonathan Kodjia has been missing for a lot of the season.
“But we’ve settled and strung a few results together. That confidence is vital at this point of the campaign.
“We got caught cold. They’re a very good counter-attacking team with pace in good areas.
“But they’ve got very good talent at this level, and you’re always going to be in for a difficult game when that’s the case.
“We’ll have to guard against it but, more importantly, it’s about what we can go and do.
“We’ve racked up a few big scorelines this season and have players that can score a goal.
“I hope we can pose a threat.”
and on Villa Park crowd
“There’s still a bit to go, isn’t there?
“It’d be great to see Villa Park full again.
“The atmosphere a month ago against Birmingham was fantastic. Let’s try and fill it.
“There’s been a lot of doom and gloom at Midlands clubs in recent years, so this game deserves to be a big occasion.”
Nuno on Villa
“We know what this game means to our fans. It means a lot. We must control our emotions, but we know what it means to win.
“You have to celebrate when you do. Everybody should celebrate goals. When you score, it is the moment of greatest joy in football.
“Villa is a tough game. They are a good team, they have a good manager and are a big club. They have good momentum, but we only focus on what we do on the pitch, how we prepare ourselves and what we want to achieve.
“Every game is important, it has been since the beginning and will be to the end. This is one of the toughest competitions in the world, with a lot of tough teams.”
In seven previous meetings with Wolves in the second division, Steve Bruce has never lost a home league game.
19th March 2011 – Aston Villa 0 Wolves 1
A first half goal from Matt Jarvis was enough to secure the points in this Premier League encounter.
The game, which saw a rare start for Jean Makoun, is significant in the history books for reasons that will be explained below…
One to Watch
Diogo Jota – Joint top-scorer for Wolves, the Portuguese attacking midfielder has 13 goals and five assists in all competitions this season.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
When you take a look at this fixture you can’t help but think back to last time we played Wolves in October.
Villa didn’t really show up on that occasion although, as Bruce stated in the pre-match comments, we were a different side then.
With a mid-week win over Leeds away, Wolves seem to have overcome their mini run of poor form, and as their league positioning might suggest, have the best away form in the Championship. For Saturday’s game they will welcome back midfielder, Neves, following his suspension – he’s been a key player for them this season.
At kick-off on Saturday, Wolves will have topped the Championship for 113 consecutive days, the longest run since Leicester City’s 129 consecutive days at the top between December 2013 and May 2014. It’s fair to say it’s our most difficult home game so far this season.
While the team worked well away at Sunderland on Tuesday, there will be a number of things to consider for Bruce on Saturday. Will the injured Whelan be replaced by Jedinak, or will Birkir Bjarnason feature in the starting XI?
A defensive approach is never ideal for a home game, but if we are as open as we were against Sheffield Wednesday, we could face problems due to Wolves’ counter-attacking prowess.
Historically we have a decent record against Wolves, but in terms of recent encounters, it’s a different story. Saturday’s opponents have won three of their last six meetings against Villa, which is as many as they managed in their previous 32 games against us (in all competitions).
“There’s been a lot of doom and gloom at Midlands clubs in recent years, so this game deserves to be a big occasion” – Bruce on Saturday’s game
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
With the likes of Jota and Bonatini (both of whom who scored in the reverse fixture) in the Wolves squad, they’re always going to prove a difficult opponent.
It’s important not to forget our own quality though, and Grabban and Adomah have both scored more Championship goals than the Wolves pair mentioned above.
As well as that, Grealish is fit for a start on Saturday, so hopefully he will play as well as he did in the Blues derby.
Our home record against Wolves is solid, and in our last 12 matches against them at Villa Park, we’ve lost just once – the memory match mentioned above.
As well as that, in seven previous meetings with Wolves in the second division, Steve Bruce has never lost at home.
We can look to the history books for some encouragement. Wolves haven’t done the double over Villa since the 1962/63 campaign, when both were in the top flight. Could both teams be in the big league next season?
That’s a question for later. Now, we have to focus on our upcoming tough fixtures, and a win over Wolves would send out a bold statement in preparation for the games to come.
Hopefully we can get three points on a difficult derby day and make automatic promotion a realistic aim.