Emery does it again! Villa 2-0 Wolves - The Review

Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Since Unai Emery came to the club there has been a dramatic improvement on the pitch and Villa now find themselves regularly breaking curses that have stung them for years. From beating Manchester United at Villa Park for the first time since 1995 to progressing past the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in eight years. This weekend Emery struck gold again as Villa beat Wolves at home for the first time in the top flight at Villa Park since 2003. 

In what is historically a sticky game for Villa they recorded another vital three points in the race for Champions League qualification. The 2-0 win saw Villa regain fourth spot after Spurs had momentarily claimed it following a 2-1 win over Luton thanks to a late goal from Son.

Brentford’s late equaliser against Manchester United was also a huge boost for Villa as they now hold an 11 point lead over United in sixth. It is looking increasingly positive for Villa with regards to those Champions League spots.

Ezri Konsa
Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League / Michael Regan/GettyImages

On to the game itself. Despite a nervy opening half an hour which saw the away side have the best of it, Villa showed their quality to record a comfortable victory. Emi Martinez produced a magnificent save from close range early on to deny Rayan Ait-Nouri and from that moment on it only really ever looked like Villa who would score the next goal.

A well-worked set piece between Douglas Luiz and Leon Bailey saw the Jamaican roll the ball back to the edge of the box for the in-form again Moussa Diaby to slam the ball home past the helpless Jose Sa. This was after Ollie Watkins spurned a glorious one-on-one chance to open the scoring. 

Moussa Diaby
Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League / Malcolm Couzens/GettyImages

Villa began to dominate in possession and ensured that Wolves were unable to create any further clear cut chances before the break. Watkins was forced to withdraw at half time with a suspected hamstring injury which will be a worry for the Villa fans with the crucial part of the season upon us. The early indication is Watkins wished to play on and was taken off as a precaution so fingers crossed it isn’t anything too serious. 

The second half saw the chaos of the Duran-Zaniolo partnership influence the game. Both made a significant impact off the bench and provided real energy to the Villa attack. The two combined in order to win the ball back in the attacking third in the build up to Villas decisive second goal.

Zaniolo doing well to lay the ball to Diaby who in turn played in the overlapping Ezri Konsa down the right who capped off a sensational week on a personal note by chipping the ball over the keeper and into the far corner. It certainly looked to be intended as a cross to the far post, but frankly, who cares?! 

Ezri Konsa, Moussa Diaby, Nicolo Zaniolo
Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League / Michael Regan/GettyImages

The remaining half an hour saw Villa control the game well and defend sensibly to keep a first Premier League clean sheet in seven matches, and the first at Villa Park since defeating Arsenal back in December. 

There were many positives on the night. Moussa Diaby certainly looking to be bringing back the early season form that excited the fans so much. Nicolo Zaniolo is also continuing to show an improvement in form and that all important and morale boosting clean sheet for the Villa defence.

On the other hand, the injury to Watkins will be a worry for Unai Emery as losing such a key man at this time of the season would be a real blow. The form of Alex Moreno at left back will also likely be a small concern.

Moreno was the weak link in Villa’s defence and looks to be a long way off the superb form he showed towards the back end of the previous campaign before suffering the injury that kept him out for several months. 

Villa fans will be looking ahead now to another busy week with the tough trip to the Etihad followed by the home game against Brentford. Realistically the expectation for most will be three points from six, which would be a very good return.

Given that Manchester United’s next two games see them face Chelsea away and Liverpool, I feel it is likely Villa gaining three points out of the six available next week would see their top five chances suffer no harm.

Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire, Mason Mount, Kristoffer Ajer
Brentford FC v Manchester United - Premier League / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Despite the fact that many (like myself!) will write off our chances against City in the week, here’s another fact. Villa haven’t won at the Etihad in the Premier League since April 2007. Could Unai break another Villa curse?!