Liverpool won the title last night thanks to Man City’s 8th defeat of the season.
Wolves have lost just 6 times and only the newly crowned champions can better that record. Remarkable.
The key to further progression is turning a few of the draws into wins.
In that respect, the Bournemouth result was significant. We’d probably have drawn or lost a drab, frustrating contest like that last season.
With Man Utd not playing until Tuesday, this is a big opportunity to occupy fifth and turn up the pressure on the other teams around us in the table.
Given what’s at stake for both teams, I suspect this won’t be a quiet affair, even in an empty Villa Park.
Back in November, a Villa win at Molineux would have taken them above Wolves in the table.
Now there’s a 22 point gap and our neighbours would settle for finishing above 18th place.
They probably need 3 wins from their remaining 7 to stay up and the fixture list isn’t kind.
After tomorrow’s game, they’ve got Liverpool and Man Utd back-to-back and only West Ham on the final day pits them against fellow strugglers.
I would go as far as saying if they’re beaten well in this one, it could be the knock-out blow for a team with fragile confidence.
Conversely, victory could prove decisive given that none of those around them are winning and provide belief they can scramble the necessary points.
They have the worst defensive record in the league, averaging nearly 2 goals conceded a game (59 in 31) – a ratio that must be improved if they are to survive.
A decent showing at Newcastle earned them a point, but they may well have seen it as a missed opportunity to get an all important win.
Jack Grealish didn’t play at Molineux earlier in the season and like him or not, he’s their key man and most likely route to victory.
The home end
Some thoughts lifted from the pre-match thread on the Villa Talk forum:
Not impossible to get a draw from this as although Wolves are very good they don’t score a huge amount and don’t really hammer teams so expect a close game. It’s incredible how they do things. Started season in July of course and I really thought with Nuno still wanting a small core of players they’d really struggle with juggling the competitions this season. Instead even before the break they were on a strong unbeaten run in the league and doing well in the europa. Not like they even rotate much so let’s hope they find the 3 game of the week a little too much as we’ll make more chances to starting line up than they will. I’d go for a front two, Jack in free role and Nakamba, Luiz and Hourihane as the middle trio. McGinn from 60th minute onwards. Think we’ll give them a decent game but again lose 2-1.
This is one game where I would actively encourage a conservative approach. 95% of Wolves attacking effectiveness comes through counter attacks.
Please tell me it’s also not impossible to get a win from this! Because that’s what we need. A draw probably won’t be good enough. We’ve now gone 7 (seven) league games in a row without one. It’s not just about the three points… going on a winless run like that must sap confidence little by little, we also badly need the massive psychological boost that a rare win would give us! I just hope that the qualifying for the CL pressure might get to Wolves (to counteract the relegation pressure that is likely, to whatever extent, to get to us).
What we need to do is not play Grealish in central midfield, play him where he gets goals and assists and because that’s what we need, and it’s also where he’s had the best form of his career. Got away with it to a certain degree last night because Newcastle were playing with one specialist midfielder and two No.10 types, it won’t work against a more solid Wolves midfield of Neves, Moutinho and Dendoncker, if we only play with two specialist midfielders against those three then we really will be putting ourselves at a disadvantage.
It is great that nobody knows whether Nuno is going 343 or 352. You can’t plan definitively for both systems.
It was 343 in the win over Villa back in November and we dominated most of that game.
In either shape, they should be tailor made opposition given their frailties at the back. Just keep things tight and wait for the moments.
They sat back and allowed Chelsea a lot of possession in their previous home game so it will be interesting to see if they adopt a similar approach this time.
Well done to Marney, GoWolves, Sea Pigeon, BARDWolf, Adrian, Paul AD67 and RickRack Wolves who all correctly predicted the 1-0 win over Bournemouth. Iceni Wolf still leads the way in the overall table.
As always, if you’d like to join in simply leave your prediction in the comment section below using the boxes provided.
That’s where you’ll also find my best guess for this one.
Up The Wolves!