Dean Smith’s Aston Villa side are coming into this EFL Cup Round of 16 tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers, on the back of a disappointing result against reigning champions Manchester City. They played a good brand of football against Pep Guardiola’s men and showed themselves in an extremely good light. They did well off the ball for parts of the game and would be looking to bounce back in the cup.
Before their defeat, the Villans were unbeaten in four matches and had notched up an impressive 12 goals in that stretch as well. Dean Smith’s side will be hoping for a good run in the cup to prove their ambitions to the fans who have stuck with them through thick and thin.
Jota’s groin strain is set to keep him out until the second week of November, meaning that Dean Smith shouldn’t have too many worries in terms of selection. Jack Grealish has picked up a slight knock towards the end of their game against Manchester City and is a doubt for this fixture. Although the manager has provided positive feedback about their star man’s fitness, it seems unlikely that he will be ready in time for this tie.
Expect the Villans to stick to their guns for the most part of the starting line up. Defensively, Villa haven’t been the most secure, but they certainly haven’t been the worst either. The defensive pairing of Bjorn Engels and Tyrone Mings has worked out for them so far this term. The latter has also made multiple goal-line clearances over the course of the campaign, including a special one against Manchester City to deny Jesus a sitter.
Matt Targett and Frederic Guilbert have been Smith’s preferred wing-back combination. Considering the sheer havoc they wreaked over Norwich City a few weeks ago; it’s unlikely that he’d go any other way for this fixture as well. The duo will have to be at their absolute best against Wolves if they are to deal with the monstrous runs that Adams Traore is capable of making.
This fixture against a well-organised team like Wolves could force Dean Smith into making changes to his midfield. If he were to operate with a double anchor, as they did against Manchester City last weekend, Wolves would be able to simply overload the middle of the park and keep control of the ball. Expect Smith to be aware of this possibility and switch back to his preferred 4-3-3 to counter any plans that Nuno Espírito Santo may have.
Former Manchester City product Douglas Luiz could drop down to the bench with Conor Hourihane replacing him out on the pitch. He will be joined in midfield by Marvelous Nakamba and the Villans’ in-form man John McGinn. The youngster has been nothing short of a revelation over the last couple of seasons, and his contributions in an attacking sense, have been vital.
Wesley’s place in the side isn’t going to be under scrutiny anytime soon, mainly because he’s scored four goals for them already this season. Still only 22, he has the potential to develop into a top Premier League striker. With the injury to Jack Grealish, expect his replacement from the weekend – Anwar El Ghazi to take his place on the left flank, with Trezeguet continuing on the right side.
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