On the back of a lackluster performance and demotivating result against the league’s worst side, Villa have the perfect opportunity to get fans optimistic again with a classic midlands derby.
The fixture being played on Saturday is proving to be a good omen for the Villans.
Villa have the best win percent in the league for games played on Saturday with 75%, while Wolves are yet to win a game played on a Saturday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have looked a shadow of their former selves when comparing them to last year.
Losing Diogo Jota to the league champions appears to have left a big hole in the Wolves side, but what can Villa expect as their black country counterpart visit Villa Park?
LET’S LOOK AT THE STATS
Go back a year and Wolverhampton Wanderers were sat comfortably in 8th place in the table and well in the mix for a European spot.
Fast forward 12 months and Wolves are languishing in 12th place, as close to the relegation places as they are a European finish.
Wolves’ attack has not been close to the threat that burst onto the scene following the club’s promotion to the topflight in 2018.
Their total expected goals for this season is 27.4.
To put this into some context, Wolves’ expected goals is 10.8 lower than Villa’s and only 2.5 higher than Newcastle United, a side criticized constantly for their lack of attacking intent.
The table below shows the bottom teams in the Premier League in terms of their total expected goals.
For a Wolverhampton side that ended last season with the ambition of breaking into the top four in the near future, this is incredibly disappointing.
Looking at the stats, it seems that Wolves are taking too many shots from non-threatening positions rather than trying to work the ball into dangerous areas of the oppositions half.
This is due to their low xG, but relatively high number of shots.
Wolves have taken 319 shots this season, which is more than Everton, Tottenham, Arsenal, and West Ham, but have only scored 26 goals (less than all the teams mentioned previously).
This gives them a disappointing 0.07 goals per shot (lower than West Brom, Newcastle, and Crystal Palace) and the table below shows this data.
At the other end of the pitch, things are not much better for The Wanderers.
Wolves have only kept 7 clean sheets in 27 matches this season, which is the 4th lowest in the League.
This is something Wolves will be keen to improve ahead of the trip to Villa Park as Villa have won every home game this season in which they have scored first.
In the middle of the pitch, Wolves seem incredibly keen to dribble with the ball (thanks to the likes of Adama Traore), but seem reluctant to battle in the middle of the pitch.
To put this into context, Wolves have completed the most successful dribbles in the league this season with 371, however, if we look at the number of tackles in the middle third of the pitch, Wolves have completed the second lowest with only 139.
This makes Dean Smith’s midfield selection even more important as this could be the key area that allows Villa to control the game.
POSSIBLE LINE UPS
The hosts will still be without Kourtney Hause, Matty Cash, and Wesley for the fixture.
Most importantly, Jack Grealish looks set to miss yet another match for the Villa as the star man has yet to train with the first team since February 18th after succumbing to shin pain.
Dean Smith’s biggest selection issue comes with his midfield three as Marvelous Nakamba, Jacob Ramsey, and John McGinn are all desperate to hold onto their positions while Ross Barkley and Douglas Luiz will be looking to get their names back on the team sheet.
As for Wolves, they will travel without Fernando Marcal, Raul Jiminez, and Daniel Podence while Willy Boly will look to win back his place in defense from Leander Dendoncker.
Who do you think should start for Aston Villa? Fill in the form below and we will release a ‘Fans XI’ ahead of the game!