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Preview: Aston Villa vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers - predictions, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Midlands rivals Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Twenty-nine miles and 22 points separate Midlands rivals Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash between the two sides at Villa Park.

The hosts go into the match still in the relegation zone but with only goal difference now separating them from safety, whereas Wolves continue to underline their credentials for a Champions League finish.

Match preview

Aston Villa's Ahmed Elmohamady celebrates scoring against Newcastle on June 24, 2020© Reuters

The clock is against Aston Villa in their bid to stay in the Premier League, but Wednesday night's late 1-1 draw against Newcastle United earned them a point which could prove crucial in the relegation battle.

Ahmed Elmohamady - signed by now-Newcastle boss Steve Bruce at three different clubs including Villa - popped up with an 83rd-minute equaliser which means that Dean Smith's side are now only in the relegation zone on goal difference.

In such a tight scrap at the bottom of the table, a point could make all the difference - particularly considering that both West Ham United and Bournemouth lost again - but Villa will also know that they need to end their winless run sooner rather than later.

It is now more than five months since Smith's side picked up a Premier League victory and, while that statistic is exaggerated by three-and-a-half months out of action due to the coronavirus lockdown, a seven-game winless streak at this stage of the campaign is relegation form.

Villa have taken only two points from those games as well, and things do not get any easier for last season's Championship playoff winners in the coming weeks.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith pictured on June 17, 2020© Reuters

Indeed, their next six games all come against teams currently in the top 11 of the table, including three of the top six in succession now.

Surprise results will therefore be needed if they are to go into their final-day crunch match with West Ham still in contention for survival, and they are most likely to get those results at Villa Park, where they have amassed two thirds of their 27 points so far this season.

For Wolves, the short trip provides a glorious chance for them to put the pressure on those around them in the Champions League race, with fourth-placed Chelsea and fifth-placed Manchester United in FA Cup action over the weekend.

Depending on Chelsea's result against Manchester City on Thursday night Wolves could jump all the way up to fourth with a victory, and even a draw is guaranteed to be enough to move above Man United into fifth - which, as things stand, would be good enough for Champions League football too.

Of course, Nuno Espirito Santo will be demanding a third win from three games since lockdown in order to take full advantage of Man United's FA Cup exploits, having already beaten West Ham and Bournemouth in the past week.

Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raul Jimenez celebrates scoring against Bournemouth on June 24, 2020© Reuters

A third consecutive match against a team in the bottom four proves that Wolves have had arguably the kindest fixture list of the return, but things do begin to get a little tougher after Saturday, with fellow European hopefuls Arsenal, Sheffield United, Everton and Burnley next up.

Nuno's side sit above all of them in the standings, though, and it is not until the final day of the season, when they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, that they next come up against a team currently above them in the table.

Wolves have won four of their last five Premier League games and three of their last four on the road, where only Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea have amassed more points all term.

The Midlands outfit need only nine more points from their last seven games to surpass last season's points tally, and they will be favourites to move three closer to that target this weekend.

However, they have not won at Villa Park since March 2011 and have not done the league double over their near-neighbours since 1963.

Aston Villa Premier League form: LLLDLD
Aston Villa form (all competitions): LLLDLD

Wolves Premier League form: DWWDWW
Wolves form (all competitions): LWDDWW

Team News

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish pictured on June 17, 2020© Reuters

Smith made a few changes to his Villa side for the match against Newcastle, with the likes of Keinan Davis and Conor Hourihane dropping out and Jack Grealish moving back into midfield.

Elmohamady came off the bench to net the equaliser and will therefore be hopeful of a starting role this time around, but otherwise changes could be fairly minimal.

Frederic Guilbert and Danny Drinkwater will once again be assessed ahead of kickoff as both close in on returns, but Bjorn Engels remains sidelined while Wesley and Tom Heaton will not feature again this season.

Wolves boast a clean bill of health at the moment and could therefore name an unchanged lineup to the one which beat Bournemouth last time out.

That would mean another start for Adama Traore, who has once again been impactful in both of his outings so far, while Raul Jimenez will lead the line having extended his own club-record to 15 Premier League goals in a single season on Wednesday night.

Nuno could consider resting one or two players, but his side have a rare luxury of a full week off after this match and so those he does select to start the game will have more chance to recover than they have been used to for the vast majority of the campaign.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Nyland; Elmohamady, Hause, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Hourihane; El Ghazi, Samatta; Grealish

Wolves possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Castro; Traore, Jimenez, Jota

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Aston Villa 1-2 Wolves

Time is running out for Aston Villa and their fixture list is not kind, so it is these home games which are likely to be their best chance of picking up the points they need to survive now.

Wolves are flying at the moment, though, and with the chance to capitalise on the two teams directly above them being in FA Cup action we can see Nuno's side picking up another win.

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Aston Villa's Jack Grealish reacts on January 21, 2020
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