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Aston Villa 0-0 Wolves: Romain Saiss misses sitter to ensure stalemate in Midlands derby

Match report and highlights as Premier League Midlands derby at Villa Park ends goalless following Romain Saiss' glaring miss from close range; Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa both struck the woodwork for hosts but points shared

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Aston Villa's draw against Wolves in the Premier League

Romain Saiss' glaring second-half miss ensured Aston Villa and Wolves played out an entertaining goalless draw on Saturday Night Football.

Saiss had the goal at his mercy after Conor Coady's header had struck the post but the defender could only direct his effort over the bar from a yard out.

Aston Villa had struck the woodwork twice in the opening period through Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa, but they faded in the second period as Wolves were left to rue Saiss' moment of misfortune.

Rui Patricio denied Watkins before Konsa's rebound was wide in stoppage time and the result leaves Villa in ninth place with 40 points from 26 games, while Wolves remain in 12th on 35 points.

Player ratings

Aston Villa: Martinez (8), Elmohamady (6), Targett (7), Mings (7), Konsa (7), Luiz (6), Sanson (6), McGinn (6), Trezeguet (6), Traore (6), Watkins (7).

Subs: Barkley (6), Davis (6), Ramsey (n/a).

Wolves: Patricio (7), Semedo (7), Saiss (6), Dendoncker (6), Coady (7), Jonny (6), Neves (7), Moutinho (6), Neto (8), Traore (6), Jose (6).

Subs: Silva (n/a).

Man of the match: Pedro Neto.

Villa fire blanks again without Grealish

Ollie Watkins slams the crossbar with his long-range strike early on
Image: Ollie Watkins slams the crossbar with his long-range strike early on

Twelve miles and five points separated these two mid-table teams, while Aston Villa were looking to secure their first league double over Wolves since the 2003/04 season having won the reverse fixture 1-0 in December.

The hosts made a bright start and came within inches of finding the breakthrough inside four minutes when Watkins collected John McGinn's pass, escaped Leander Dendoncker, and unleashed a ferocious shot that thundered back off the crossbar.

It was the seventh time this season Watkins had struck the woodwork, more than any other Premier League player.

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Wolves were vying to earn consecutive away league victories against Villa for the first time since 1960, but their goal continued to lead a charmed life when 10 minutes later Konsa met Bertrand Traore's cross to hit the same spot of the woodwork.

Team news

Dean Smith made three changes to the Aston Villa side that started in the 1-0 reverse at Sheffield United as Douglas Luiz replaced Marvelous Nakamba and Trezeguet was in for Anwar El Ghazi, who dropped out of the matchday squad. Jacob Ramsey was benched as Morgan Sanson was handed his first Villa start since completing his £14m move from Marseille in January.

Nuno Espirito Santo made one change to the side that lost 4-1 at Manchester City as Willian Jose replaced Ki-Jana Hoever. The visitors named just eight substitutes with Owen Otasowie missing having been on the bench against City.

Sky Sports' Don Goodman said: "Once again, Wolves have got away with it. Desperately unlucky for Aston Villa."

The visitors had just four touches inside the Villa box during the opening period as Emi Martinez was untroubled. Nuno Espirito Santo will have demanded more at the interval, and his side improved markedly in the second period.

A Villa corner broke down within five minutes of the restart and Pedro Neto drove from inside his own half to test Martinez at his near post, but the Argentine was equal to the effort.

A trademark volley from Ruben Neves came next but it whistled over the bar as a malaise set in Villa's performance, shorn of Jack Grealish's inspiration once more.

Dean Smith's side had not heeded the warning and should have fallen behind when Neto's short corner was headed onto the post by Coady before Saiss somehow lifted the rebound over from a yard out.

Matt Targett and Pedro Neto fight for the ball at Villa Park
Image: Matt Targett and Pedro Neto fight for the ball at Villa Park

"That is remarkable that he can't turn that in," Goodman said. Villa had lost all their rhythm as Wolves continued to hunt a winner - and they thought it had arrived with 15 minutes remaining when Willian Jose's scuffed shot was collected by Coady, but his turn and shot brought a superb stop by Martinez.

Remarkably it meant that Coady has now had a shot on target in his last two Premier League games, after not registering a single one in his first 102 appearances in the competition.

The chance had been all of Villa's own making after a poor touch inside his own penalty area by Ross Barkley, but the game ended with both teams ruing missed opportunities and Grealish's mind elsewhere after his side had fired another blank in his absence.

Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish was in the stands during the draw
Image: Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish was in the stands during the draw

What the managers said

Aston Villa Dean Smith thinks their ni-nil draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers is a fair result.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith: "It was a game of two halves. The first half was the best we've played since December. Ollie Watkins pulled one back when he could have had a shot. In the second half I thought Wolves were really good. So it's probably a fair result.

"There were some big chances missed. Whenever Jack Grealish is not playing you are always lacking something. I know Wolves are missing Raul Jimenez but they are a good team.

"I keep saying there is a lot of inconsistency around the Premier League at the moment with the exception of Manchester City. There is tiredness and fatigue."

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo thought his side struggled in the first half of their nil-nil draw with Aston Villa.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo: "We didn't press so well in the first half but everything changed in the second half. At the moment it's the case and it's something we need to try to improve. I wish I knew why. It's something we need to reflect on and find why and the how to stop it.

"After the first half, we had to improve and we found better ways of pressing. We controlled the game with and without the ball after that. Everything changed - we were much more organised and aggressive in the duels.

"We had the header from Coady and I know him very well so I can say he should've done better. Credit for him as we're pushing him to get into the box. We'll keep looking for more solutions so he can score more.

"Of course there's been progress. We weren't playing well but we've improved and individuals are getting better. We're recovering players, we're more stable and are more confident in ourselves. We're focused on making improvements game after game."

In pictures: Miss of the season?

Romain Saiss
Romain Saiss scoops the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy
Romain Saiss
Romain Saiss

Espirito Santo refused to blame Saiss after his horror miss, saying: "It's clear he should have done better but the mistake, in our view, is something we are always supportive of. There is no problem at all. Saiss must be proud because he fought really well for the team.

"It was Coady first, the header of Coady, I know him very well and he could have done better but credit to him because it's something we are pushing him to go into the box. He has been able to find good positions."

Villa boss Dean Smith said: "When I have seen it back it's one which comes back at him and he (Saiss) inexplicably puts it over. I was certainly a relieved man after that."

'First-half sloppiness has to stop'

Adam Traore struggled to impose himself during the Midlands derby
Image: Adama Traore struggled to impose himself during the Midlands derby

Wolves defender Conor Coady told Sky Sports:

"I should have scored two tonight. I should have scored again after the other night as it was right in front of goal. The second shot was on the turn and was a bit scuffed. We were much more like ourselves in the second half so we're a bit disappointed.

"I should score - it doesn't matter if I've scored one or 100. I should've scored. We'll keep on working hard to get better. It needs to stop [where second halves are better than the first].

"We were too passive and were giving the ball away. It was more our sloppiness, but we had words at half-time. If we perform like we did in the second half more, we'll pick up more results."

Analysis: 'Chances fell to the defenders!'

Wolves' solitary victory in the previous nine away games came at Southampton
Image: Wolves' solitary victory in the previous nine away games came at Southampton

Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp:

"Pretty much all the chances fell to the centre-backs. It was that sort of game as the frontmen didn't show enough quality, and the chances fell to the likes of Coady and Saiss.

"It's so easy to say in hindsight that they should've taken another touch but people panic in these situations. Strikers stay ice cool and it's why they make the difference.

"Dean Smith will be really disappointed with the second half. They had been the better side, and they were in the ascendancy. There wasn't enough quality on show apart from Neto. He was the only offensive player who looked likely to score."

Man of the match - Pedro Neto

Pedro Neto's strike brings Emi Martinez into action in the second half
Image: Neto's strike brought Emi Martinez into action in the second half

Speaking prior to the game, Redknapp said: "Neto is one of my favourite players in the Premier League. I feel he's got incredible pace, he dribbles past people, he's got the stepover. He's so quick off the mark, and can stand good balls up to the back post. I feel he's got everything.

"The best clubs in Europe will be looking at him. He's got so much confidence and a tremendous desire to win the ball back for his team. He's got that lovely arrogance and I could watch him play all day. He's a fantastic player who is destined to go right to the top."

There were no goals, but Neto did not disappoint.

The Portuguese produced two key passes - more than any of his team-mates - while he also did his fair share of defensive work, regaining possession eight times and making three interceptions. No man in black and gold managed more.

Opta stats

Adama Traore shields the ball from Ahmed Elmohamady
Image: Traore shields the ball from Ahmed Elmohamady during the stalemate
  • Wolves remain unbeaten in their last five away Premier League games against Aston Villa (W2 D3), having lost on six of their previous seven trips to Villa Park in the top-flight before this (W1).
  • Aston Villa have failed to score in each of their last four home Premier League games against Wolves - only against Chelsea (a run of five between October 1995 - January 2000) and Man Utd (a run of five between March 2003 - December 2006) have they had a longer run of games without scoring against a specific opponent at Villa Park in the competition.
  • Aston Villa have kept 14 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, their highest tally in a single top-flight campaign since 2009-10 under Martin O'Neill (15), whilst only league leaders Man City (15) have kept more shut outs in the competition in 2020-21.
  • Wolves (P6 W0 D3 L3) are one of only two sides that remain winless in Premier League games played on a Saturday this season alongside Sheffield United (P9 W0 D0 L9).
  • Under Dean Smith, Aston Villa have won just two of their 12 home league games without Jack Grealish (D5 L5) and remain winless in such matches since a 2-1 victory against Bristol City in the Championship in April 2019 (P4 W0 D1 L3 since then).

What's next?

Live MNF

Aston Villa travel to face Newcastle at St James' Park next Friday; kick-off is at 8pm. Wolves host Liverpool on March 15 on Monday Night Football; coverage starts at 7pm with kick-off at 8pm.

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