Aston Villa will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss against Tottenham Hotspur prior to the international break. Whereas Wolverhampton Wanderers will be keen to add a third game to their previous two wins against Newcastle and Southampton.
There is one key area that Wolves will be keen to exploit and Dean Smith must do everything in his power to prevent it being the downfall for his side in this fixture. Villa currently have the worst tackling success rate against opposing dribblers at 31.9%.
This in itself would be an issue but it is only worsened by the fact Wolves have the best dribbling success rate in the league, as they complete 64.8% of them each game. Wolves are clearly a very difficult side to stop once they get going and Villa are currently struggling to stop anyone dribbling, let alone the best in the league.
Wolves are led by Adama Traore in this category. He leads the league in carries per game, progressive yards per carry, shot ending carries and chances created from carries. His end product has eluded him so far this season, but Villa must ensure that if he starts, their game plan is focused on preventing him from growing into the game.
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Stopping the likes of Traore, Francisco Trincao and Raul Jimenez from progressing the ball and collapsing the defence will likely be key in this fixture. Villa have the ability to stop these players, the likes of Matty Cash and Matt Targett have shown they are among the best tacklers in the league. They must ensure they show this on Saturday or Villa risk being exposed.
Villa would likely receive a massive boost if Leon Bailey is passed fit for this game. Not only are Wolves hard to stop but they also are the most successful team in stopping opponents. They have a 48.4% tackling success rate against dribblers which is the best in the league.
Villa will need someone like Bailey, who possesses an innate ability to beat his man, in this fixture against a solid Wolves defence.
This fixture poses a new task for Dean Smith’s side. Set pieces are likely going to be ineffective as Wolves suppress the majority of efforts from these situations. Only Manchester City have conceded less shots from set pieces so far this season, which outlines Wolves’ dominance in these areas.
Villa will need quality on the ball, an eye for a pass and their strikers in top form if they are to come away with all three points on Saturday. Their ability to nullify an impressive Wolves attack could be the deciding factor in this game.
Utilising Marvelous Nakamba in this game may be of use for Dean Smith. His ability to break play up and track runners could be useful when attempting to stop the likes of Traore.
Douglas Luiz is currently away on international duty and may miss the Wolves fixture. Nakamba could be called upon in midfield to fill the void and allow the likes of John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey to flood forward.
In an ideal world, Luiz would be available for selection and Smith could push him forward with the inclusion of Nakamba as the defensive midfielder. This partnership was effective against Everton and led to Luiz setting up the opening goal for Cash. However, if he isn’t available Villa do have depth to fall back on.
Whether Smith chooses to keep his five at the back formation or opts for a new system remains to be seen. Ignoring the game against Spurs, Smith has been correct with his chosen tactics and he will no doubt set his team up in the correct way on Saturday.