Wolves looking to bounce back in West Midlands derby against Aston Villa


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After a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Leeds United just before the international break, Wolverhampton Wanderers are looking to get back to winning ways as they host rivals Aston Villa at Molineux.

Wolves came from behind in the reverse fixture to grab all three points at Villa Park in a 3-2 thriller. At the time, Dean Smith was in the dugout for Villa, however he has since been replaced by Steven Gerrard. Although the Claret and Blue look destined for a mid-table finish, Gerrard will be looking to secure all three points in his first-ever West Midlands derby.

However, the visitors know that they will have to be at their very best to come away with all three points in this derby, with Villa winning just one of the last five meetings between the two sides.

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Bruno Lage’s side have won just two of their last five Premier League games, meaning they have lost ground in the race for Europe. After picking up six points out of a possible 15, the hosts are in desperate need of a win in order to close the gap to seventh-placed West Ham United.

The hosts were in complete control at halftime during the encounter with Leeds United. Goals from Jonny and Francisco Trincão gave them a comfortable 2-0 lead, but the momentum in the game changed when Raul Jimenez was controversially sent off. The Mexican was dismissed for a second bookable offence following a collision with keeper Illan Meslier, which sparked a Leeds comeback. The home side conceded three goals in 27 minutes and left the Molineux empty-handed.

Steven Gerrard’s side are just one place below Wolves in the league, however they are separated by a significant ten points. A home win would mean it is likely the Villa finish below Wolves in the league, and this would be for the second time in three years.

The Villans have picked up three more points compared to Wolves in their last five games, but have lost their last two, with those defeats coming against West Ham and Arsenal. However, Villa were impressive in their encounter with the Gunners and many will argue they deserved at least a point, with Bukayo Saka’s superb strike being the only goal in the game.

Team News

Wolves will be without their top scorer Jimenez, who is suspended. Teenager Fabio Silva, who got on the scoresheet for Portugal U21s, is expected to come into the side in Jimenez’s absence. Versatile forward Hwang Hee-Chan is also in contention to lead the line for the home side.

Portuguese playmaker Ruben Neves is a doubt for this fixture after he limped off in the first half against Leeds before the international break. His Portuguese teammate Nelson Semedo will likely miss out after picking up a hamstring injury during Wolves’ 2-1 defeat against Arsenal. Due to these injuries, Lage will be forced to switch to a 3-4-3 formation with Leander Dendoncker partnering Joao Moutinho in central midfield and wing-back Jonny keeping his place in the side.

With the international break over, Gerrard will be hopeful of welcoming some of his players back who have been out with injuries. Lucas Digne looks set to return after a hamstring scare against the Hammers. The Frenchman was replaced ten minutes into the clash against West Ham, although this was merely a precaution. The fullback played the full 90 minutes for France in their 5-0 win against South Africa.

It is unlikely Marvelous Nakamba or Kortney Hause will be fit enough for this fixture with the pair recovering from knee and abdominal injuries respectively. After their impressive performance against Arsenal, Gerrard may be tempted to name an unchanged side for this clash.

Predicted Lineups:

Wolverhampton Wanderers: (3-4-3) Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Jonny Dendoncker, Moutinho, Ait-Nouri; Podence, Silva, Hwang-Hee Chan

Aston Villa: (4-1-2-1-2) Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Luiz; McGinn, Ramsey; Coutinho; Ings, Watkins

The Managers

Bruno Lage

The Wolves boss admits he is unsure about how the visitors will lineup in this match and believes this encounter will be a big challenge for his side.

“They’ve changed their system. Gerrard comes with a different idea. I watched some games from Rangers two years ago (against Porto and Benfica) and the ideas were there. Bit different (at Villa), our first time against a system like that. Big challenge.”

Steven Gerrard

Gerrard on the other hand has stressed the importance of securing the three points in the derby with the aim of reducing the gap between the two sides.

“It’s an opportunity to claw some points back, so it’s a big game for us. We know it’s going to be a tough challenge; they have been more consistent than us during the league campaign so far. This is a huge derby for us, we want games to have that extra buzz and special edge, so we want to give performance that represents our support in a right way.”

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