Engels out. Heaton out. Grealish out.
The lineup card has a few surprises for Villa. Steer and Konsa came into the starting XI — and both got touches within the first minute of the clash.
But it was the hosts who started the match on top. Within the first four minutes Doherty’s had a shot deflected wide by — who else — Tyrone Mings. That defender is excellent at getting in the way of shots — and Villa have need at all year.
In the next phase of attack — Steer awkwardly raced back to his far post. The ball went off the cross bar — but when Jed got up something in his leg gave way. He took a few steps gingerly — the waved to the bench. His day was done — and Ørjan Nyland entered the pitch. And you don’t get much colder than a keeper who has not played in the league or in a cup. The reports are an achilles injury.
Yellow cards were picked up by Guilbert and Wolves’ Saiss. Both for grabbing shirts to stop runs. But totally fair and professional cards.
Adama reminded Aston Villa early and often of his pace and trickery down Wolves’ right side. The hosts were having all kinds of success against Trezeguet and Targett. They were successful in quick switches of play and kept Villa on the back foot for the opening 20 minutes. But for all the attacking movement — Villa kept Nyland protected.
Guilbert gave Wolves a reason to shout for a penalty when he put his hands on the back of a Wolves attacker going for a header in the six yard box. Nothing given and it was a half-hearted shout.
Marvelous Nakamba picked up a yellow card short of the half an hour mark. The defensive midfielder was kept busy — in part because Aston Villa insisted on give the ball to Wolves. That is not a great plan for success.
Doherty and Targett had their legs tangled in the box. Doherty went down screaming for a penalty. Nothing given — and it didn’t look like a pen. Targett stayed down on the pitch rubbing the back of his head. He stayed on the pitch.
Mings picked up a yellow for a late sliding tackled on Adama. Villa’s third caution of the first half. Fortunately it was outside the box. Unfortunately — Wolves had a plan for the set piece. It was played square and Neves placed the shot perfectly. It nearly hit Nakamba’s head and Guilbert’s head. Nyland got a finger tip to it — but nothing was stopping the ball from going into the net. 1-0 to the hosts.
Matt Targett couldn’t finish the first half. It looked like he was complaining about vision issues. We finally got a replay of what happened and the heel of Doherty hit Targett in the back of the head — totally without intention. Neil Taylor came on as the new left back.
Thankfully the halftime whistle blew and ended a poor half from a Villa perspective.
The opening minutes showed a more energetic Aston Villa. Neil Taylor even took a shot. It wasn’t really close to going in. But one day — I hope he scores.
Ten minutes into the second half Villa had their first strong counter attack. Targett wins a header sending El Ghazi on a run. He squared it to Welsey at the top of the box. The Brazilian took it first time but couldn’t keep it on target. Too much power and excitement from the big man. But it was good movement and a good chance — on a day where both were lacking.
Villa played better after the chance — but the attacks continuously broke down through errors and giveaways. Trezeguet was off and running on a counter attack. Then he proceeded to run directly into a defender. Seriously. That is what happened.
Villa’s final sub — and first tactical one — was Henri Lansbury coming on at 68’ for Marvelous Nakamba.
Right after the final dub. Tyrone Mings went down hard and grabbed his leg. He got up and tried to keep going.
Trezeguet went down in the box after El Ghazi ran on a counter after a tackle from the wrong side. No penalty. The ball hit Neil Taylor on the arm as he slide on the other side — but it was deemed a natural position and the fact that if he arm wasn’t there it would have hit his head or body. No penalty. VAR looked at both and offered no changes.
A minute later — Diogo Jota picked up for a yellow for complaining — which he did the entire match.
After the Lansbury sub — Aston Villa were better. They pushed through the middle — which is something that was lacking all day. Lansbury pushed forward into the box a few times as well to pressure the tiring Wolves defense. Wolves came up with 3 or 4 crucial blocks.
Sensing the change in momentum — Wolves made their first change in 82’ with Neto coming on.
McGinn tried to play Neil Taylor though. The full back couldn’t get to the pass and Wolves countered down their right with Adama. Douglas Luiz lunged in and missed — give the speedster all the room in the world. He pulled a pass back and Raul Jimenez put it in the net with a Konsa deflection. 2-0 to the hosts.
One minute into an added three minutes — Aston Villa clawed one back from a corner kick. The ball fell to Trezeguet at the far post and he fired it at the goal. It looked like it was cleared off the line. But a quick goal line decision changed that — it had gone over the line. The travelling supporters didn’t seem to be aware as the Egyptian winger called for the fans to get excited.
But there was not enough time left — for Villa to pull off a second goal.
The result was fair. Wolves dominated the first half — helped by a really poor showing from Villa. Villa showed up in the final 20 minutes or so. Lansbury helped change the strategy. Dean Smith was prevented from making more tactical subs because of the Steer and Targett injuries.
Time for the team to get healthy over the international break.