Wolverhampton Wanderers could snap a three-match winless streak when they host fellow West Midlands side Aston Villa in the English Premier League soccer (9am ET Sunday).
In general, it has not quite been the start to the season that Wolves were hoping for. Their highly impressive first campaign back in the top flight last season yielded a seventh-place finish and regularly saw them go toe-to-toe with the league’s best teams in direct encounters.
This time they have found results harder to come by. While Leicester have emerged from the pack to put together a serious bid not just to break into the top six but even perhaps the top four, Wolves find themselves in 12th. They have won two, lost two and drawn a league-high seven matches. That is just two less than they drew in the entirety of last season.
Last weekend’s 1-1 draw away to Arsenal was their third consecutive tied game. Arsenal took an early lead, but Wolves pushed on and eventually got a deserved equalizer through Raul Jimenez a quarter hour from time. Even in a slightly disappointing beginning to the campaign, they have still continued their good record against the established top six, winning away at Manchester City and drawing with Arsenal and Manchester United.
Nuno’s side do need to start turning a few more of their draws into victories if they are to match last season’s finish. By the underlying numbers, they have looked slightly less impressive at both ends of the pitch to date, but with a Europa League campaign stretching a squad whose reinforcements haven’t quite yet gelled that is perhaps not all that surprising. A good run in Europe and a solid mid-table finish would still represent a good season.
Saturday’s match is, though, one that they will have pencilled in as an opportunity to grab all three points. Villa have made a solid return to the Premier League following a three-year absence, but they are still down in 16th, have lost four of their five away engagements and are open enough defensively to think that Wolves could have some joy in transition.
Villa invested heavily to strengthen their team and squad for the challenge of the top flight, spending north of £130 million ($167 million) on 12 signings, some of whom had been loanees from their promotion campaign. That outlay doesn’t look likely to produce a season as impressive as the one Wolves put together last season and neither will it necessarily preclude relegation.
So far, Dean Smith’s side have pretty much got the results you would expect from each of their individual fixtures. Their 1-2 loss at home to Liverpool last weekend was their fourth defeat in four against members of last season’s top six, but they have beaten Brighton at home and fellow newly promoted side Norwich away (5-1, in fact), and drawn with West Ham and Burnley. A win over Everton was balanced by defeats to Crystal Palace and Bournemouth.
The underlying numbers also suggest Villa are pretty much where they should be in the table, but it is possible that they will improve as the season goes on. It may take some time for all their new arrivals to settle properly, while getting away trips to six of last season’s top seven out of the way in their first 15 fixtures might produce a better points haul thereafter. If they don’t improve, they are likely to be reliant on other teams not doing so.
Particularly so if they do not improve their defence. Aston Villa have conceded a league fifth-high 18 goals to date and that doesn’t appear to be down to fate. No team in the league are giving up as many shots as the 19.4 that Villa are conceding per match. That is a big number to sustain week after week. The last side to concede that many shots were the Blackpool team who let in a whopping 78 goals en route to relegation in the 2010-11 season.
Wolves have only kept two clean sheets and conceded 14 times in 11 matches so far this season. So backing the home team to win with the American bookies in a match in which both teams score seems a solid play.
Our Preview’s Wolves vs Aston Villa Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
- Bet on Wolverhampton Wanderers to win and both teams to score @ +300 (3/1) with Bovada. This betting market with that bookmaker is called “Match Result And Both Teams To Score.” Then pick the option: “Wolverhampton Wanderers Win & Yes.”