Dean Smith made three changes ahead of the fourth match in eleven days.
Many supporters have been calling to see the combination of Davis and Samatta up top — and against high-flying Wolves they get their wish.
It is still so odd to see Jack Grealish lead the squad out to an empty Villa Park. Also I hate fake crowd noise. On to the match!
Wolves seemed happy to let Villa have the ball early on. During an early possession, Targett made a simple pass and grabbed his left hamstring. After some medical attention the left back tried to carry on — while Neil Taylor warmed up on the sideline.
After the restart, Grealish got fouled (drink). The ensuing free kick lead to a Hause header that went wide.
Targett went down again — unsurprisingly — and was taken out for Neil Taylor in the tenth minute.
Mings picked up a early yellow with a tackle right outside the Villa box in the 17’. The dangerous free kick was thankfully captured by Nyland at the near post.
Patient is the best description for the opening 24 minutes when the water break was called. The run of games, combined with what seems to be the standard slow start post-restart, lead to a defensive feel to the match.
After the water break Nakamba took a nasty, unintentional, shoulder to his head from Doherty. The midfielder was down for a little bit but jogged off the pitch — and then right back on.
With ten minutes until the break Aston Villa had their best attacking a spell. A few crosses were defended and in the end captain Jack Grealish dribbled in from the left and fired a shot from the top of the box right at the Wolves keeper.
The shot appeared to wake Wolves up. They took the ball and began to swing it from side to side much faster — putting pressure on Villa’s defense as halftime approached.
Then Villa pulled a Villa. Just a terrible, dumb, foolish mistake. Nyland tried the throw the ball but it slipped out of his palm so it looped right to Jota and a one-on-one opportunity. Nyland — to his credit — reacted well to get back to the middle of his net. Jota fired it off target, much to the relief of all those in claret and blue.
Davis’ hold up play created the second chance for Villa. In the end Hourihane’s shot was blocked. Wolves fought back and pushed until the break ending a patient and defensive half at 0-0.
Halftime came and went with no changes.
Hourihane began the half with a terrible corner and then a lovely ball in from a free kick. Sadly the Wolves keeper punched the ball clear.
Wolves made a mistake in the defense — gifting the ball to Samatta. But the striker delayed on the ball — wasting the opportunity. The Tanzanian seems hesitant and off — at a time when Villa need him.
Villa subs were made at the hour mark, Hourihane and Konsa off, McGinn and Elmo on. The Wolves sub that everyone knew was coming — occurred as well. Adama Traore entered the pitch for Jota.
A minute later — Wolves broke the deadlock. Dendoncker fired into the corner from just outside the box. Jonny created the chance by finding between Mings and Hause and Jimenez got the pass to him perfectly.
Wolves pushed on after the goal and Villa seemed to struggle to find their sea legs. Thankfully there wasn’t a second quick goal that Villa seemed to love to give up.
Villa began to push in the final fifteen minutes. Samatta had half a chance from a McGinn cross. Villa kept trying to counter attack but the legs just weren’t there nor was the final ball to create a chance.
With 10 mins left, Nakamba and Davis came off, Trezeguet and El Ghazi on. Trezeguet immediately had a chance from a free kick and put it well wide. El Ghazi got involved with an excellent cross from the left. Samatta went down very easily but there were hands on him in the box.
Wolves set up a strong defense and a tired Villa had no way to unlock it. Wolves left Villa park with a deserved three points and Aston Villa team wondering where the goals are going to come from. Liverpool and Manchester United wait.