Aston Villa vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Aston Villa will be seeking to do the double over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League for the first time since 2003-04 when they collide for their second West Midlands derby of the season.
However, Dean Smith’s Villa have been struggling of late and are still awaiting the return of captain Jack Grealish from his recent injury layoff.
Meanwhile, Wolves will be keen to get back on track after their five-match unbeaten run ended at the hands of runaway leaders Manchester City in midweek.
Villa struggling without Grealish
Aston Villa could use Jack Grealish back in the line-up. They have clearly missed their captain and have lost two of the three games he has missed due to a leg injury.
They were fortunate to escape Elland Road with a 1-0 win, but their luck ran out as they lost 1-0 away to relegation strugglers Sheffield United last time out. Villa could not break the Blades down despite dominating 72 per cent of possession and having a man advantage for the last half-hour after Phil Jagielka was sent off.
The latest Premier League 2021 updates suggest Grealish has a chance to return for the big derby. But if Grealish does miss out once again, Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi will likely continue to flank Ollie Watkins in Villa’s attack.
Aside from Grealish, Villa were also missing right-back Matty Cash due to a hamstring injury and is likely to sit out as well.
Meanwhile, Villa manager Dean Smith has shaken up his midfield in recent games, with defensive midfielder David Luiz dropped for the last two games in favour of Marvelous Nakamba. Teenager Jacob Ramsey has also been handed starts in back-to-back games, and new signing Morgan Sanson has started to feature more regularly as a substitute.
But after their disappointing defeat at Sheffield United, Smith may opt to start Luiz and/or Ross Barkley for the derby.
Wolves continue to grind
Wolves were the latest victims of Manchester City’s incredible winning run, which is now at 21 straight games. They gave the league leaders a good fight and were tied at 1-1 with just 10 minutes left. But City eventually broke through and scored three late goals to make the scoreline much more flattering.
Prior to that defeat, Wolves had been one of the form teams in the league after picking up three wins and two draws in their last five games. Granted, they had a bit of good fortune in their 1-0 win over Leeds.
To Wolves’ credit, though, they have been picking up good results despite the lack of goals from their forwards. Of the seven goals they’ve scored in their last six league games, only one has come from a forward. Midfielder Ruben Neves has three of those goals, although two have come from the penalty spot.
Striker Willian Jose, who came over from Real Sociedad, has yet to score in his seven appearances this season.
In typical Wolves fashion, they just keep things very tight at the back and grind out those goals. Although, this tactic has not been too successful for them away from home this season. They have won just once in their last nine matches away from Molineux, with five defeats.
Villa historically have the upper hand over their Midlands neighbours. They have a 56-41 edge in wins over Wolves, with 32 draws.
Villa won their first derby against Wolves this season 1-0 at Molineux thanks to a late Anwar El Ghazi penalty. Wolves did the double over Villa last season.
Prior to last season, though, Villa had won their two previous encounters at Villa Park, first in the Championship in 2018, then in the EFL Cup in 2019.
|Aston Villa vs Wolverhampton Wanderers||Under 2.50 @ 1.80|
|March 07, 01:30 (GMT+8)|
The SBOTOP odds for this West Midlands derby are quite tight. Villa are narrow 2.44 favourites, while Wolves are priced at 3.00. A draw is 3.05.
The potential return of Grealish could push those Premier League 2021 odds more towards Villa’s favour, though, so be sure to stay updated on his situation.
But if Villa are once again without their captain, it will be quite difficult for them to break down a tough Wolves defence. And even with Grealish, they needed a late penalty to beat their rivals in their first meeting.
That is why I anticipate this West Midlands derby at Villa Park to be another tight affair with few — if any — goals.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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