Wolverhampton-Aston Villa Preview
Whilst Wolverhampton have essentially picked up where they left off prior to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, Aston Villa are still toiling within the drop zone.
Wolves aim for a season-high third consecutive Premier League victory on Saturday against host Villa in Birmingham.
One must go back to Jan. 23 for the last time Wolverhampton (12-13-6) lost a league match. Currently sixth in the table with a serious eye on a top-four and European spot, Wolves are amidst a 4-3-0 stretch within the league. During that run, Wolverhampton have conceded just two goals and posted clean sheets in each of the last three.
Out of the lockdown, Wolves won 2-0 at West Ham United and followed with a 1-0 triumph over Bournemouth on Wednesday.
"You look at the kinds of things we might be able to achieve. The sky's the limit," defender Matt Doherty told Wolverhampton's official website.
Raul Jimenez has been a big reason for Wolves' success before and after the shutdown. Two of his club-leading 15 goals have come over the last two matches.
"It feels amazing," Jimenez said of his club's current state. "It's a feeling of that we are working very hard the last couple of weeks before we start again. We made it great on the pitch, and I think if we are like this, as a pack, then we can achieve anything."
Jimenez scored in the 84th minute of a 2-1 home victory over Aston Villa in the reverse fixture on Nov. 10. Mahmoud Trezeguet pulled one back late for the Villans (7-6-18), who enter this match 0-2-5 in league play since beating Watford on Jan. 21.
Villa, who currently sit in the middle of the relegation zone, fell 2-1 to Chelsea out of the lockdown, but managed a needed point by rallying for a 1-1 road draw versus Newcastle on Wednesday as Ahmed Elmohamady leveled the match in the 83rd minute.
Despite the fact Villa have not won in more than five months, manager Dean Smith, at least publicly, is trying to put a positive spin on the status of a club that is facing relegation.
"We can see the team spirit that we have and also the quality," Smith told Aston Villa's official website. "Confidence has not wavered. When players are playing well, they know - and they are playing well at the moment. We all know what a win means and what it can do for the league table."
Updated June 25, 2020