The 1-0 loss to Arsenal wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it certainly wasn’t the best — the cold baloney sandwich of sport results. Steven Gerrard notably disregarded the 4-4-2 diamond look, having sputtered of late, but garnered solid results on the whole, and things felt uninspired. This feels like it was months ago, but the international break is over and we’re moving on to this week’s match against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Sitting one spot ahead of Villa in eighth in the table, Wolves have sputtered a bit of late, losing three straight prior to the current three game run. The current run has seen more success, with wins at Watford (4-0), at Everton (1-0), and a home loss to Leeds (3-2), but the competition has been more forgiving. Players to keep an eye on include Rayan Ait-Nouri at left-back/wing-back, Jonny at right-back/wing-back, and Hwang Hee-Chan at striker. Raul Jimenez (red card) and Ruben Neves (injury) are notably out for this weekend’s match.
FLASHBACK: Aston Villa held on for all three points at Molineux last season, walking away with a 1-0 victory thanks some fantastic Emi Martinez saves and an ice cold penalty kick from Anwar El Ghazi.
For Aston Villa, the presumption is a return to the 4-4-2 diamond. It’s frustrating to have to bench Emi Buendia, but playing two 10’s isn’t producing results. There shouldn’t be too much drama elsewhere on the team sheet. Lucas Digne returns at left-back, with Matty Cash playing on the right and Tyrone Mings partnering with Ezri Konsa at center-back. You could make an argument for Calum Chambers over Ezri Konsa, but expect to see Konsa. The midfield trio should keep to the familiar, with Douglas Luiz holding for Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn, and Philippe Coutinho will play in the 10 role. Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins should partner up front. Emi Martinez will reprise his starting role in goal.
PREDICTION: Wolves have sputtered of late, but Villa are currently in a bit of a sputter themselves having lost the last two. If we see a return to the 4-4-2 diamond I see reason for tempered optimism and a 1-1 draw at Molineux.