Matchday 27 in the EFL Championship gifts football supporters with a 1st versus 3rd match-up which could swing the whole balance of the top 3 places on the table.
While the form of Wolves this season has been the real talk of the league it is no secret that their results have been less than stellar in the past few weeks. Aston Villa will host Wolverhampton in a derby game that is sure to excite even the most vanilla of neutrals.
Wolves come into the game top of the table with 76 points from 45 games, with 23 wins, 7 draws and only five losses. In their last five matches, Wolves have not looked like the team who had more than a ten point lead on the rest of the table not so long ago. While they have only lost one game in their last five contests, they have won two games and drawn two. The two games that Wolves have drawn in that span were to Norwich City and Preston North End, typically teams that they should have dispatched with relative ease. Wolverhampton defeated Leeds United earlier in the week by a 3-0 scoreline. Willy Boly collected Man Of The Match honours on the day, and the defender impressed throughout, even scoring a goal at the stroke of half-time.
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce once again had a very candid pre-match press conference leading up to this fixture. Bruce spoke at length of injury woes more than anything. Villa will be without Alan Hutton, Axel Tuanzebe, Glenn Whelan, and Jonathan Kodjia for the Wolves game. While Kodjia has been out for an extended period of time, the talisman of last season has been seen popping up at Bodymoor Heath with more regularity than usual. Steve Bruce also talked about the importance of keeping a good run of form and a certain required endurance to keep things going well in the Championship. Villa have definitely seen their fair share of injuries this year but have had multiple squad players step up when called upon. With the exclusion of Alan Hutton and Glenn Whelan, Ahmed Elmohamady and Mile Jedinak seem to the the ‘next men up’ in the starting eleven for Aston Villa.
Villa will have it all to play for against Wolves, and they will be getting a giant piece of their puzzle back with the return of Jack Grealish. The Claret And Blue have not quite looked like themselves since Grealish went down with a calf injury, and his inclusion will undoubtedly lift the rest of his teammates. The Number 10 for AVFC has turned a corner since recovering from a freak kidney injury earlier in the season and the 22 year old is definitely finding his best form in terms of production and maturity.
Elsewhere in the league, Cardiff City are currently 4 points ahead of Villa in the 2nd place automatic promotion spot while Fulham are on the heels of Aston Villa, a mere one point behind them on the table.
Gaining a proper result in this game against Wolverhampton seems to be a keystone in Aston Villa’s push to snatch second place away from Cardiff while further expunging the lead that Wolves have solidified in the league. Make no mistake about it, this is a massive game for both teams. Villa has the advantage of playing this one at Villa Park and some home cooking should help grasp all three points on the day.