Dean Smith’s optimistic Aston Villa side will be looking to get back to winning ways when they travel to the Molineux to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday night. The Villans played out two of their most difficult games of the season against Liverpool and Manchester City over the last two weeks, and unsurprisingly, lost both.
Prior to the defeats though, they had picked up seven points from three league fixtures and were getting into a decent run of form. Although the losses would’ve been demoralising, their performance against Liverpool was worth a lot of praise indeed. To say that they deserved a point from that match, wouldn’t be pushing it at all. Wolves, on the other hand, haven’t been beaten since the middle of September, but come into this tie on the back of three successive league stalemates.
One of the Villans’ key misses over the past couple of weeks has been Spanish attacker Jota Peleteiro. The 28-year-old could return to the matchday squad on the weekend, but won’t feature in the starting lineup itself. Frederic Guilbert was substituted during Villa’s heart-breaking defeat to Liverpool after he suffered a dead leg within the opening minutes of the game.
Jack Grealish is another who has been said to be a doubt for this tie, but Dean Smith has confirmed that the Englishman is in contention. England manager Gareth Southgate has been watching the youngster for a while now, and he’ll be eager to get back into the Villa side and show the world what he’s made of. Kienan Davis suffered a hamstring injury when these two sides met in the Carabao Cup not too long ago. The Englishman though isn’t expected to return until the beginning of December.
The Villans defensive record this season reads 18 goals conceded from 11 league fixtures so far, and while that’s not too bad, it certainly hasn’t been good enough to sustain in the Premier League. Frederic Guilbert has been a key part of Dean Smith’s defence line, offering both defensive rigidity as well as an attacking edge. His link-up play with John McGinn has been a feature of the Villans’ season so far.
Across the left flank, expect to see the familiar face of Matt Targett. The former Southampton man is adept at making those darting runs into the opposition third – something that Wolves will have to be wary about on the night. The central defensive partnership of Tyrone Mings and Bjorn Engels seems to be working for Villa, which means that they’re both expected to continue.
Zimbabwean international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba has been nothing short of a sensation since joining the Villans from Club Brugge in the summer. His contributions to this Villa side have been massively underplayed, as he has the quality to control the tempo of a game from midfield. With Nakamba operating as the midfield anchor, expect to see Villa’s main creative outlets in John McGinn and Douglas Luiz, just in front of him.
Jack Grealish is set to make his much-awaited return to the first-team, after missing their narrow defeat against Liverpool owing to a calf problem. He would move into the left side of midfield, with Trezeguet over on the other flank. Anwar El Ghazi is the player who could be forced to make way for Grealish’s inclusion this weekend.
Wesley has undoubtedly shown glimpses of his potential since joining from Brugge in the summer and is currently the Villans’ top scorer in the league with four as well. He does have room for improvement though, as a pass completion rate of little over 75%, just doesn’t cut it in the Premier League. Despite this, he is expected to keep his place in the side, especially considering that his main competition in Kienan Davis, is still out injured.
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