Aston Villa and Wolves is undoubtedly the game that will suffer the most for the lack of a live crowd so far. Wolves and Villa may not have the same-city rivalry that a Blues and Villa clash would, but it’s very much next in the pecking order of West Midlands derbies and it’s one full of historical conflict.
However, this will be a very interesting case study into just how much a game of this magnitude is directly affected by the hatred of the fans, rather than those on the field who, by and large, have to adopt these animosities.
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Perhaps the best element of this game will boil down to the fact that both sides have something to play for, which should act as a fine placeholder for that added crowd-fuelled energy.
Villa are now within touching distance of climbing out of the bottom three, while Wolves will believe they’re still very much alive in the hunt for the top four. Whether you believe that or not is now irrelevant because you can’t be on-hand to voice your opinion in, what I presume, would be of the civil language befitting of a fixture of this size. Gulp.
Here’s your three best betting positions for this heated battle.
Wolves to Win and Both Teams to Score
Take away that equaliser against Newcastle and the narrative from the season would be that this Villa crop is worse than the squad who saw relegated a few years ago.
And it’s not exactly a left-field idea, either. That back four consists of players that, had they all been playing the Championsihp this year, there might have been some low-level interest from clubs looking in the top tier trying to avoid the drop next year.
Jack Grealish carries the creative spark and it’s only the fact he’s too talented for Villa that both the supporters and his team mates are happy to overlook his off-field mishaps.
Wolves, meanwhile, have managed one thing that almost nobody does. That’s sticking to a style of play to solidify your place in the Premier League, but then also expanding on that idea via clever recruitment and coach upskilling.
They’re the perfect football club right now, but I do fancy Villa to sneak one late.
Adama Traore to Score Anytime
Villa’s width comes from their full backs because their wingers almost consistently come in off the flanks to overload central areas. Which is kind of funny because they don’t have the footballing credibility to work intricate passages outside the box.
Anyway, they’re forever being picked off when in transition, and given their obsession with not playing Conor Hourihane who may well be their best utiliser of possession, they tend to lose the ball a lot. This frees up the pace of Wolves on the break. Adama Traore is a genuine contender for a non-top-four Player of the Year and I think he’ll bag here.
Half with Most Goals – Second Half
I’m putting this in because of the value now, given the trend evolving from games that are needlessly quiet early doors. Of course this market may make its way back to normal price levels again, but for now – I think we can drain some more value out of it.