Aston Villa v Wolves: Big-match guide ahead of heavyweight Sky Bet Championship clash
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 10/03/18 8:39pm
Aston Villa and Wolves meet in a heavyweight Sky Bet Championship clash at Villa Park on Saturday.
With Villa aiming for automatic promotion and Wolves hoping to take a step closer to the title, we look at the form guide, talking points and stats going into this potentially defining game, which is live on Sky Sports Football...
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Two positions and 10 points separate these two sides heading into the weekend. Wolves are six points clear of Cardiff in top spot while Villa are third.
Championship top six
Aston Villa were second a couple of weeks ago but a defeat at Fulham and a draw against Preston saw them drop four points off Cardiff. Steve Bruce's side still have eight wins from their last 10 games.
Wolves, meanwhile, recovered from their biggest blip of the season to thump Leeds 3-0 in midweek. Nuno's men had dropped points in three games in a row for the first time this campaign to briefly open the door to the chasing pack.
Past six games
Aston Villa: WWLDWW
The talking point
Wolves' ownership and their links with super-agent Jorge Mendes have come under the microscope again in recent days, particularly after a string of tweets from Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani following their midweek defeat to the Championship leaders.
Wolves responded with a short statement on Friday, saying: "We are very clear on FA and EFL regulations and always comply with them explicitly.
"We welcome any form of communication with the EFL to reiterate our position, and we fully anticipate the release of a further EFL statement in support of Wolves and the club's operations to bring a prompt resolution to this matter."
Villa boss Bruce was less concerned, adding: "I'm only interested in how we beat them as a team. They've got Champions League players and with them in the Championship it's going to be difficult for all of us.
"Let the authorities deal with it, the vast majority of fans want us to beat them. How they've assembled their team is of no interest to us."
The defining words, however, probably came from Neil Warnock. The manager of Wolves' nearest challengers Cardiff said: "All this talk of advantages - let them sign who they want. It doesn't bother me if they sign Neymar. I think it's great, I wish we had all contacts like they have. Good luck to them because they've been in the doldrums for so long."
The Sun's EFL journalist Tom Barclay appeared as a guest on EFL Matters on Thursday, and said he believes that Villa will likely have to go down the play-off route to secure promotion this season, such is the form of Wolves and Cardiff.
"I've tipped Cardiff to finish second and Wolves to finish first, so Villa are going to have to do it through the play-offs if it's going to work out for them," said Barclay.
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"I thought before a ball was kicked this season that Villa would actually win the league, and I was surprised with how Wolves and Cardiff have done. I thought Cardiff would do better better than people thought but to do this well has been pretty impressive.
"But Bruce has four promotions on his CV and a wealth of experience in his squad. You looked at the team last year and you thought some experienced heads were missing, but John Terry has been a fantastic signing. Glenn Whelan hasn't played quite as much but the experience in the dressing room has really lifted them.
"He's also come across a real settled first XI, which maybe you couldn't have said for the first year. It's a shame Jack Grealish has been injured recently because he's been playing so well, as has Albert Adomah with 14 goals from out wide. Even Scott Hogan, who has struggled before but is now coming to the party.
"Villa look so strong but the competition is so strong. It's one of the games of the season, and with Wolves recovering from that mini-wobble with a win at Leeds, if Villa have a chance of taking second spot then it would be an absolutely huge victory."
Aston Villa have lost just one of their last 12 home matches against Wolves in all competitions (W8 D3), a 1-0 defeat in the Premier League in March 2011.
Wolves have won three of their last six meetings with Villa - as many as in their previous 32 games combined in all competitions.
Bruce has never lost a home league match in the second tier against Wolves (P7 W3 D4 L0).
Wolves haven't completed a league double over Aston Villa since the 1962/63 campaign when the teams competed in the top-flight.
Wolves answered some of their critics with a convincing win at Leeds on Wednesday night but a trip to Villa Park is a totally different proposition for them.
Aston Villa are in great form at the moment and they will be hoping to close the gap on the league leaders with victory here and boost their own hopes of automatic promotion. I'm backing an entertaining draw.
David Prutton predicts: 2-2 with Lewis Grabban to score first (80/1 with Sky Bet)
Don't miss the Sky Bet Championship clash between Aston Villa and Wolves on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 5.15pm
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