Wolves gave their fans bragging rights as they dominated their Midlands rivals Aston Villa at the Molineux Stadium on Sunday.
Wolves dominated much of the game, opening the deadlock late in the first half with a Ruben Neves strike from just outside the area. After a first-half of little showing, Villa grew into the game and Welsey steered their best effort over the bar.
Raul Jiminez punished the Villans late in the second half, wrapping up a much deserved Wolves victory before Trezeguet managed to score a late consolation goal for Villa to make the scoreline more respectable. However, it was too little too late for Dean Smith’s side.
Traore fulfilling his potential?
After yet another impressive display, Adama Traore is starting to prove his critics wrong. The young Spaniard tore his former team apart, repeatedly taking on Matt Targett and his replacement Neil Taylor. Traore completed 10 dribbles, got an assist, and won the freekick leading to Wolves’ first goal.
After unimpressive spells at both Aston Villa and Middlesborough, Traore has finally seemed to find his feet this season and has been rewarded with his first international call up. With two man of the match displays in his last five Premier League games, has the La Masia graduate finally proved his worth?
An injury crisis, or just a bad performance?
Villa headed into Sunday’s fixture without three key first-team players, in captain Jack Grealish, Bjorn Engels and Tom Heaton. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Midlands side lost left-back Matt Targett and backup keeper Jed Steer in the first half, leaving a somewhat depleted side out to battle their rivals.
Villa’s first-half display was their worst of the season, only managing to create one effort on goal, and having to defend for almost the entirety of the half. Some may argue that Villa had lost key players, however, they showed little desire to compete with their West Midlands rivals, who were all over them from the get-go.
Villa turned it around in the second half to an extent, however, blew their key chance to equalise, when Wesley put his effort over the bar. Villa fans will be hoping that Sunday’s performance was just a bad day at the office and that key players will return to fitness following the international break.
Have Wolves found their rhythm?
Wolves struggled throughout the start of the season, finding difficulty in balancing both Premier League and Europa League football. The Midlands side found themselves in the relegation zone at times, with calls from their fans for Nuno Espirito Santo to be sacked.
Following their shaky start, Wolves have now managed to solidify their position in the Premier League, going unbeaten in their last five. This weekends win saw them jump from 15th to 8th, putting them in the top half of the table for the first time this season.
Will this newfound form be a platform for them to repeat their heroics from last year, or will it be just a flash in the pan?
A lack of desire?
Surprisingly for Villa, their first-half performance was their worst this weekend. The trend of late for Villa is that their first-half performances have been fantastic, yet they struggle to follow them in the second.
Dean Smith described his side’s performance as the worst he’d seen in a long time, comparing it to the performance they put in early this year at Wigan, where they lost 3-0. With some of their better assets such as Tyrone Mings and John McGinn having poor games, coupled with the absence of key first-team players, Villa looked lost and scared for the majority of Sunday’s game.
Smith will be hoping for a turnaround in form come to the end of the international break, with Villa playing some crucial games against the likes of Newcastle and Sheffield United.
Importance of a good strike force?
One of the key reasons for Wolves’ victory this weekend was their strike force. Raul Jiminez and Diogo Jota showed their class, outplaying Villa’s makeshift backline for the entirety of the game.
Wesley, Trezeguet and El Ghazi struggled to impress, having little luck against a solid Wolves backline. The difference in quality won the game for Wolves and showed that if a team wants to survive in the Premier League, a clinical front three is almost essential.
After spending almost £130m in the transfer window this summer, will Villa need to splash the cash on a new forward and winger to help them survive the drop?
Following the international break, Wolves travel to the South Coast as they face a Bournemouth side looking to bounce back from defeat this weekend. Villa host Newcastle as former manager Steve Bruce makes his first return to Villa Park since his sacking late last year.