This evening, Aston Villa have a short journey into the Black Country to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers in a derby that could get quite lively - considering the fact that it could be a big part in determining where these two teams currently stand in the Championship, and how their season might play out.
What to know about Aston Villa
Aston Villa are really becoming ‘the team to watch’ in the Championship - capable of blowing teams away, and grinding out tough results. It’s been a real turn around for Steve Bruce, who endured a really rocky start to the season.
Steve Bruce, though, has been a rather streaky manager at Aston Villa thus far. His wins have come in rows and his losses have as well. Aston Villa will look to build a bit of consistency heading into a spell of tough games. Aston Villa have Fulham and Birmingham coming up in the next two weeks - so a loss here could set the course for a pretty bad October. A win? Knowing Villa it could do the same, but we’d all rather knock Wolves down a peg, head up to 3rd in the table and try to take 6 points from Fulham and Birmingham than any other situation.
Aston Villa’s Autumn renaissance has been crafted by one man. Albert Adomah. While he doesn’t share the names of Da Vinci, Rembrandt or any other famous creative, Villa’s own artist has cut, weaved, dribbled and scored his way into the hearts of Villa fans. For a player who found himself on the transfer list at Villa not so long ago, he’s turned it around and for me, and for Steve Bruce - he’s the first name on the team sheet.
His chemistry with Jonathan Kodjia cannot be bought (despite us buying the two of them). These two players have something between them - shown best when Kodjia could have let Adomah score against Bolton, with an open goal for the Ghanian winger. Kodjia took the chance himself and missed - but Adomah didn’t show any frustration, he simply hugged his mate - and let him take the penalty that occurred minutes later.
That’s not to say that Villa are slouches across the park, Conor Hourihane has come up BIG for Villa ever since the Reading game. Keinan Davis proves to be a revelation in linking the midfield and the attack. John Terry is finally showing Villans why he is here, and James Chester is helping Sam Johnstone keep it clean at the back. Robert Snodgrass is coming into a bit of form as well - which isn’t bad.
Steve Bruce could be quite silly to play the same formation a 4-4-2, against Wolves - a team with a pretty stunning midfield. With Adomah and Snodgrass heading on adventures to help out Davis and Kodjia, that leaves a double pivot of Hourihane and Whelan against four or more Wolves players on the break. If Villa find themselves in that situation early one, they could concede an early goal - and it will be on Steve Bruce.
On the other hand, Villa know that they can trust in Johnstone, Terry and Chester. Let’s just hope we can trust in Steve Bruce to pull the carpet from under the Wolves.
What to know about Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton are team riding a real high at the moment - despite having quite an odd situation. Their club and its actions are mostly dictated by the agent, Jorge Mendes, who has clients in the team, and a client in charge of the team - Nuno Espírito Santo. He is buddies with the club’s owners as well. Say what you will about what happens if Mendes leaves the project, but right now - Wolves fans are enjoying themselves, and for very good reason.
A win against Aston Villa sees the Wolves go top - playing some very good football to boot. Wolves’ 3-4-3 has proven deadly. With Romain Saïss and Ruben Neves holding it down in the middle, Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro are free to run wild. Jota is Wolves’ danger man up front - but he’s up against a pretty sharp centre-back pairing today.
However, Villa are without a senior left-back, and Wolves will be smart enough to test Villa on the flanks. Look for touch maps that show the Wolves heading for the corner flags and directing play through wide areas. It’s a home game for them, so they will look to attack, attack and attack. This could be devastating to a Villa side who could end up facing a horde of seven or eight Wolves on every break. Especially so if Alan Hutton is in at left-back, on his weak side.
Wolves have lost two and won seven. They favour the attack. Should they overstep their mark and not score, Villa could win this on the break. Steve Bruce has said he doesn’t intend to step off. This could get ugly, in every meaning of the word.
It’s 3/1 for a Villa away win 12/5 for a draw and 15/13 for a Wolves home win. Those results seem as equal to occur as can be in my mind.
Aston Villa are really up for a scrap against a very good team full to the brim with promising talent. You’d put your money on a ‘Steve Bruce Side’ in these type of games, but - Wolves really are something.
I think a 2-2 is likely. One of the teams will take the lead, and it will be to and fro from there. You might be in for a treat. You might not.