The Premier League returns following the international break, and Saturday’s action features a huge Midlands derby. We look ahead to the game with our Aston Villa vs Wolves prediction and preview.

Aston Villa vs Wolves Stats: Quick Hits

  • Aston Villa are backed to claim the bragging rights on Saturday, beating local rivals Wolves in 48.3% of the Opta supercomputer’s match simulations.
  • Villa are, however, winless in their last six league games against Wolves, drawing three and losing three since a 1-0 victory at Molineux under Dean Smith in December 2020.
  • Ollie Watkins has scored 22 goals in all competitions this season. In the Premier League era, only Christian Benteke (23 in 2012-13), Juan Pablo Ángel (23 in 2003-04) and Dwight Yorke (25 in 1995-96) have netted more in a single campaign for Villa as a top-flight club.

Match Preview

Aston Villa emerge from the international break occupying fourth place in the Premier League table, but their grip on a UEFA Champions League spot became slightly less secure before the hiatus as they followed a 4-0 defeat to fifth-placed Tottenham with a 1-1 draw at West Ham. With tough trips to Manchester City and Arsenal on the horizon, Villa will be desperate to get back to winning ways in Saturday’s Midlands derby against Wolves, who harbour European hopes of their own.

According to Opta’s prediction model, a tough set of quarter-final draws for England’s European representatives saw the Premier League’s chances of receiving a fifth Champions League place drop from 82.5% to 70.6%. With no guarantee that fifth will provide a safety net, Villa’s aim must now be to hold off Spurs to reach the top four.

A late VAR intervention saved Villa against West Ham as Tomás Soucek saw a potential winner chalked off for handball, after Nicolò Zaniolo had cancelled out Michail Antonio’s opener. Unai Emery will hope for a better performance when his team return to Villa Park, with only Liverpool and Arsenal (11 apiece) winning more home Premier League games than Villa (10) this season.

west ham 1-1 aston villa stats

However, Villa have lost three of their last four league games at Villa Park – as many as in their first 23 such matches under Emery (18 wins, two draws). Since the turn of the year, only Sheffield United (one) have collected fewer home points than Villa’s three.

Villa will again be without a couple of key midfielders, with an anterior cruciate ligament injury sidelining Boubacar Kamara for the rest of the season and John McGinn still suspended following his red card against Tottenham. 

If the hosts are to get back to winning ways, Ollie Watkins – who endured a somewhat frustrating time on international duty with England – could have a key role to play. Watkins has 22 goals in all competitions this season; since the Premier League era began in 1992, only Christian Benteke (23 in 2012-13), Juan Pablo Ángel (23 in 2003-04) and Dwight Yorke (25 in 1995-96) have netted more in a single campaign for Villa as a top-flight club.

Like Villa, Wolves are also dreaming of European qualification, though they saw one potential avenue closed off in gut-wrenching fashion before the international break, squandering a 2-1 lead in stoppage time as they were beaten 3-2 by Coventry City in a dramatic FA Cup quarter-final.

wolves 2-3 coventry xg race

Gary O’Neil must now lift his crestfallen players for one last assault on the top seven, though he will have to do so without a couple of big names. Pedro Neto could miss the rest of the season after suffering another hamstring injury, while Hwang Hee-chan is not expected to return until mid-April. However, Matheus Cunha returned to full training this week in a major boost for the visitors.

When Cunha suffered his own hamstring injury against Brentford on 10 February, only four players had bettered his 15 Premier League goal involvements in 2023-24 – Mohamed Salah (22), Erling Haaland (21), Watkins (21) and Son Heung-min (18).

In the absence of Neto and Hwang, O’Neil could field Rayan Aït-Nouri in a more advanced role after the Algerian recorded a goal and an assist against Coventry. Aït-Nouri has two goal involvements in his last three Premier League matches (one goal, one assist), as many as in his previous 55. The Algerian has also created 20 chances in the competition this campaign, with only Pablo Sarabia (41), Neto (38) and Cunha (25) laying on more for Wolves.

Wolves’ only other selection issues relate to Jean-Ricner Bellegarde and Craig Dawson, both of whom will be assessed after missing the Coventry game with minor injuries.

A quick start could be vital for both sides. Wolves have won their last seven Premier League games when opening the scoring, with only Liverpool (14) and Arsenal (eight) on longer current runs.

However, no side has scored a lower percentage of their Premier League goals in the first halves of games than Wolves this season (33%). By contrast, no team has scored a higher proportion of their goals (48%) or conceded a lower share (33%) in the opening 45 minutes than Villa.

Aston Villa vs Wolves Head-to-Head

Wolves have an excellent recent record against Villa, going unbeaten through their last six Premier League meetings (three wins, three draws).

Villa’s last victory over Wolves came at Molineux in December 2020, with Anwar El Ghazi scoring a stoppage-time penalty to decide a bad-tempered game that saw Douglas Luiz and João Moutinho sent off.

Having lost on their first Premier League visit to Villa Park in December 2003, Wolves have alternated between drawing (four times) and winning (three times) on their last seven trips. The teams played out a 1-1 draw in this exact fixture last January, with Daniel Podence and Danny Ings on target.

October’s reverse fixture at Molineux also ended 1-1, with Pau Torres cancelling out Hwang’s opener before Wolves had Mario Lemina sent off in stoppage time. 

Recent Form

Despite their injury troubles, Wolves’ league form has been outstanding in recent months.

Since Christmas Eve, when Wolves beat Chelsea 2-1 at Molineux, only City (29), Liverpool (25) and Arsenal (24) have collected more Premier League points than their 22 (seven wins, one draw, three defeats).

O’Neil’s men have won four of their last six league matches (two losses), though their last trip ended in a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle United. Prior to that, Wolves were unbeaten in four Premier League away games, winning three and drawing one.

Villa have only won one of their last four games across all competitions, though that lone victory did come last time out at Villa Park, as they trounced Ajax 4-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Aston Villa vs Wolves Predicted Lineups

Aston Villa Predicted lineup vs Wolves
Wolves predicted lineup vs Aston Villa

Aston Villa vs Wolves Prediction

While Villa have found victories over Wolves hard to come by in recent seasons, the Opta supercomputer makes them favourites for Saturday’s game.

Of 10,000 match simulations conducted ahead of kick-off, Villa won 48.3%. Wolves are given more than a 50% chance of picking up a result, though, with 28.1% of scenarios seeing the points shared and 23.6% ending in an away win.

In the supercomputer’s season predictions, Villa have slipped just behind Tottenham in a tight race for a top-four finish. Spurs finish fourth in 47.3% of scenarios, with Villa doing so in 46.8% and Manchester United in only 3.9%.

Wolves, meanwhile, are given a 10.3% chance of a top-seven finish and a 23.3% likelihood of making the top eight, which could be enough for Europa Conference League qualification.

Aston Villa vs Wolves Prediction Opta

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