Aston Villa – Wolves: Finish was missing at Villa Park where both Aston Villa and Wolves will feel aggrieved at their attacking performances in a scoreless draw on Saturday.
Villa’s top-four hopes take a big hit with the draw, now seven points back of Chelsea and six behind Everton but holding a match-in-hand on the former.
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Villa’s lone shot on target came late, but Dean Smith’s men hit the frame twice early at home.
Wolves get their 35th points, 12 points clear of the bottom three and eight behind seventh-place Spurs. Wolves have played one or two more games than anyone ahead of them.
Three things we learned from Aston Villa – Wolves
1. No Grealish, no Jimenez, no party: This isn’t to take any shots at Villa or Wolves, who staged an entertaining-enough match, all things considered, but the absence of the hosts’ best playmaker in Jack Grealish and Wolves’ top finisher in Raul Jimenez haunted this match. There were 13 shot attempts but just one on target (plus the two struck goal posts by Villa) after 65 minutes. Are there any players outside the “Big Six” whose absence is more noticeable? Maybe Wilfried Zaha at Palace, Allan Saint-Maximin at Newcastle, or Matheus Pereira at West Brom would like a word but it’d make for a tough argument in most cases.
2. Martinez is a wonder: Emiliano Martinez has now worked wonders at two clubs in two years, Arsenal and Villa, after the Gunners sent him on loan to (clears throat) Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Wolves, Getafe, and Reading before deploying in place of Bernd Leno last season. Arsenal has had a lot of good goalkeepers in the past few years and Leno and now-departed Martinez are among them. His save on former teammate Coady was ridiculous. All three of the game’s saves were his until the final moments.
3. Early promise yields one point for Villa: Villa’s entire finish to the season would feel different if either of their early posts were a few inches closer to goal, as sitting seventh would have them four points back of fourth and a Manchester United UEL win could make fifth a Champions League spot. Instead, the Villans are looking up at Spurs, Liverpool, West Ham, and Everton in addition to Chelsea.
Man of the Match: Conor Coady
Robbed by Martinez late, Coady was reliable again in his own end to the tune of six clearances, two blocked shots, an interception, and a tackle. The former defensive mid also completed all of his 27 passes.
Aston Villa – Wolves recap
Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa both hit the woodwork for Villa in the opening quarter-hour, the hosts clearly superior.
Villa had five of the game’s eight shot attempts over 45 minutes, holding 52 percent possession, but neither team put a shot on target.
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Conor Coady nearly made it two goals in as many games, a stunning turn of goal scoring form for the hard-nosed defender, but Emiliano Martinez made his latest big save of a starry season between the sticks for Villa.
But Villa was punchless between and below the posts, failing to muster a shot on target to give Its keeper a deserved win at home.