Badger is away sunning himself in Gran Canaria so I’m filling in this week – to be fair though we’re having some issues with the site which has prevented Badger from writing an article.
Wolves had a poor finish to last season and Nuno Santes left in the summer with Bruno Lage taking over – another Portuguese manager – with Wolves continuing in the same vein. However their results have picked up of late with three wins in four and haven’t conceded in their last two away games.
Wolves are unbeaten in their last five games at VP – their best run against any specific team – now why does that sound familiar?
Wolves squad news; winger Trincao misses out follwoing a positive Covid test otherwise they have no fresh injury problems.
As for Villa it has already been pointed out Bailey is still not fit and Traore is also likely to be side lined with a thigh injury picked up on International duty with Burkino Faso – I really do dislike these international breaks! It appears that both Sanson and Davis are fit and are in contention although I’d be surprised to see either start.
Martinez (now rated the best GK in the world by Mr. Messi) and Luiz are expected to start even though they’ve only just got back from involvement in the WC qualifiers in South America. It seems Villa contributed (with six other Premier Leagues sides) to the renting of a private jet to fly Luiz back in time for the match – very eco friendly!
There has been quite a lot of comment that Smith’s formation of using Watkins and Ings as a front two with Ings playing off Watkins rather than playing as an ‘old fashioned’ CF – which is surely his strength – is not working. Badger has questioned whether Ings was wanted by Smith or whether it was a rushed strategic buy to pacify fans after JG left. I’m not so sure – Ings can normally be relied on for goals – but the paucity of goals from this pairing more than suggests the current arrangement is not working; will Smith change things tomorrow with Watkins playing wide or running the channels – I very much doubt it .
I also worry about our relative lack of creativity and lack of width with both Bailey and Traore out. I assume that El Ghazi will start; now I like EG but it just depends which version turns up on the day! Buendia can provide some width but Smith has chosen not to start him which begs the question as to why? I accept players do need time to settle into a new team but at £38m I would have expected more from him than we’ve seen and that’s a worry considering he was brought in to provide creativity and create chances for the front two.
It seems many fans would also like to see McGinn playing in more forward role with Ramsey and Luiz sitting in and looking at his performances for Scotland it’s hard to argue with that.
I assume that Martinez will play and the rest of the defence picks itself. I didn’t see last week’s game being at the London Marathon but by all accounts the defence – Mings in particular – were poor and we lost a game where we should, at least, have picked up a point. They will need to be better organised tomorrow if we are going to get anything from this game.
Given that Wolves generally set up to contain and look for goals on the break, I can’t see this being a high scoring match though they they pose a significant attacking threat with Hwang and Jiminez linking up well since the former came into the side three games ago.
I just don’t see us winning this one and am (again) going for a draw 1-1.
It would probably be remiss not to mention the recent purchase of Newcastle backed by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund with a value of circa £230Bn making them the wealthiest club in the World – apparently. No doubt we will have to suffer much fawning from the media and watch as they flout the FFP rules with impunity! Does that sound like bad grace on my part – yes well!
What is unacceptable is the way in which Steve Bruce is being treated. Now like him or not, he’s a decent bloke trying to do his best and to be left hanging with the media openly discussing who’s going to replace him is just not right.
A more important question is how does this affect NSWE’s plans and will it change their views over future investment in the club? It seems that we are still fourth richest in the Premier League and Citeh have shown that winning the league is not a given no matter how much money you throw at it.
As Adam remarked, it would be very interesting if Newcastle got relegated before they had time to splash the cash – we can but hope!