ASTON VILLA welcome Wolves for a West Midlands derby on Saturday in the Premier League. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
Aston Villa vs Wolves | Saturday 27th June 2020, 12:30 | BT Sport
Saturday’s only Premier League game takes place at Villa Park with Midlands rivals Aston Villa and Wolves taking centre stage, both battling it out for very different priorities.
With the FA Cup quarter-finals across the weekend, both the Villans and Wolves can steal a march on their relegation and European race competitors respectively with points in the bag certainly a preference over games in hand.
Villa are keeping competitive, as they have done all season, but will be feeling aggrieved to have only taken two points from their first three game back since the league restart.
A largely dominant Villa display against Sheffield United, a lead for an hour against Chelsea and a host of missed opportunities against a coasting Newcastle didn’t result in the desired amount of points to push the team out of the bottom three, although all is not lost yet.
Villa sit 19th but only inside in relegation zone on goal difference thanks to West Ham, Watford and Bournemouth’s continual poor form and to Dean Smith’s benefit – there are perhaps more positives to take for the claret and blues than their rivals for the bottom three.
The return of Conor Hourihane to the side has given the team a real set-piece threat and John McGinn’s energy in midfield has been missing for quite a long time, so the Scotsman’s recovery from what looked like a season ending injury couldn’t have come soon enough.
McGinn the man to focus on
It’s McGinn where I want to focus my attention for my first bet. His early season form was a real shining light for the Midlands club, particularly his eye for goal. It didn’t come as too much of a surprise of those that saw him dominate in the midfield and score many a belter during his Championship days, but McGinn’s step up to the top flight has surpassed the expectations of many.
McGinn is priced at 23/20 to have Over 1.5 Shots in this match with BoyleSports which, considering the same bet can be found at 1/3 elsewhere, looks like value.
This marker has landed in two of his three matches since the resumption – the game where he only managed one coming against Chelsea when Villa took an early lead. He loves having a pop from range and with his average shots-per-game this season standing at 2.1, I was pleasantly surprised to see plus money prices available.
When you consider that Villa’s opportunities in the box could be limited here and the fact the 25 year-old registered two in the reverse fixture at Molinuex, the 23/20 price looks good to attack and is worth a one point play in my view.
Wolves to secure narrow success
Despite Villa showing some bright sparks in almost every game this campaign, there’s little doubting that they will have less quality, particularly in defensive areas, than Saturday’s opponents Wolves.
The Old Gold are enjoying yet another brilliant season in the top flight, building on their seventh-placed finish from last season to attempt to go one better this time around and gate crash the top four.
With Raul Jiminez leading the line and supported by an abundance of technical ability behind him in midfield areas, Wolves have formed a solid foundation and a habit of scraping victories from tight affairs. Wolves to win and Under 4.5 Goals is 21/20 with Betway, which gets Nuno Espirito Santo’s men onside with a bit of extra interest and has landed in their last two matches.
Should Wolves come away with a victory, they’ll likely have to do it by stopping the likes of Jack Grealish and Anwar El Ghazi when they get on the ball. Grealish was fouled nine times in the recent defeat to Chelsea, the most of any player in a single game this season which underlines why Villa are the most fouled team in the Premier League.
His dribbling skills as well as that of his team mates means that the Villans have earned more than 14 free-kicks in four of their last five matches (17, 16, 14, 18 and 15 to be precise) so the Over 14.5 Home Free-Kicks here with Bet365, priced at evens, looks a good way to go.
Wolves gave away 17 in the reverse fixture and at such a crunch point of the season in pretty warm conditions, I’m sure one or two of their players will happily commit a foul if it prevents a home team breakaway and a threat too close to their own goal.
Craig Pawson takes charge of this encounter and is certainly a man that likes both teams to know he is in charge – awarding more fouls per game than any other referee in the Premier League that has taken charge of more than one game (25.47). Therefore, if Pawson is as whistle happy again, the 15 line has a good chance of landing – better than the probability of 50% that the odds suggest at least.
The games are running out fast for Villa to escape the trouble they are in and although they will no doubt give their local visitors a good contest here, I can see Wolves coming away with another 3 points at an atmosphere-less Villa Park.
Aston Villa v Wolves – John McGinn Over 1.5 Shots (23/20 BoyleSports)
Aston Villa v Wolves – Wolves to win & Under 4.5 Goals (21/20 Betway)
Aston Villa v Wolves – Aston Villa Over 14.5 Free-Kicks (1/1 Bet365)