Aston Villa v Wolves
Saturday March 10, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports
Villa vying automatic promotion
After 24 consecutive years in the Premier League, Aston Villa were looking to bounce straight back to the top-tier after their relegation in 2016. They appointed Champions League winner Roberto Di Matteo as manager and spent over £75 million to ensure they could secure promotion at the first time of asking.
But after a poor start to the season and the dismissal of Di Matteo in October, a return to the Premier League would have to wait another year. Steve Bruce was Di Matteo's successor at Villa Park and, slowly but surely, he's turning Villa's fortunes around.
The Second City club currently occupy third in the Championship, just four points behind the automatic promotion spots. The hosts have won eight of their last 10 league games and have only lost one home game this campaign.
Wolves looking over their shoulder
Wolves were flying high at the top of the Championship at the start of the year and after a 3-0 win against Brentford, Nuno Espirito Santos' side were 11 points clear at the summit. But after a 2-0 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest, Wolves have gone through a minor blip.
A W3-D3-L3 run of results threatened to derail their title challenge as Cardiff closed the gap to just three points. However, the Old Gold responded in style on Wednesday night when beating Leeds 3-0 at Elland Road in a seriously impressive display.
Wanderers ominously appeared back to their best in midweek, even without influential midfielder Ruben Neves, who will return from suspension for Saturday's mouthwatering derby clash.
Aston Villa underrated?Aston Villa underrated?
Aston Villa haven't beaten Wolves since 2012 and bookmakers believe that run could extend on Saturday with Steve Bruce's side chalked up as 3.259/4 outsiders, odds that imply the Claret & Blue boast just a 31% chance of success.
But the Villans have W21-D10-L4 when welcoming Championship opposition to Villa Park under Bruce and have been hitting an average Expected Goals ratio return around the 59% mark for the majority of the season, very healthy figures.
Considering Wolves 2.506/4 have only triumphed in four of their past nine, as well as three of their previous seven games as guests, there might be mileage in supporting Villa in the Draw No Bet market at 2.265/4. The Old Gold have failed to take maximum points in five of their eight trips to top-half teams this term.
Goals at a premium
Six of Aston Villa's past eight outings on home soil against top-six rivals have featured fewer than three goals, as have 20/35 (57%) of their fixtures under Steve Bruce here. Considering the high-stakes nature of the encounter, plus the local rivalry, it's difficult to imagine anything other than a tight battle.
Wolves have returned Under 2.5 Goals profit in six of their previous eight road trips to top-six sides and with 11/18 (61%) games as guests under Nuno's tutelage following suit, it's no surprise to see the low-scoring game offered at just 1.618/13 on Saturday.