Aston Villa welcome neighbours and rivals Wolves to Villa Park on Saturday lunch time for an early season midlands derby. Alec McLeish would have experienced the rivalry between his former club Birmingham and Wolves but will get his first taste of a West midlands derby in Claret.
Mick McCarthy’s Wolves have made an unexpected start to the season with two victories from two and his side will be full of confidence going into the game. Last week’s win over Fulham at Molinuex showed that Wolves are up for the fight and will not give anything away cheaply and McCarthy seems to have assembled a good squad, full of quality players.
It is just Alec McLeish’s third game as Villa boss and he is still working on getting some of the Villa faithful on his side after a controversial move from St.Andrews. He has “won” most of the fans over with a good start to the season and last weekend’s home victory over Blackburn saw the Villa fans gave the former Scotland manager a warm reception. A derby win on Saturday would further improve his relationship with the fans.
He will be hoping that Gabriel Agbonlahor, Luke Young and Emile Heskey will be fit for Saturday. All three were substituted in last week’s victory with what was called “minor niggles”. Not surprisingly, Wolves should be unchanged from last weekend’s win over Fulham despite striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake being out for a month after suffering knee ligament damage in the Carling Cup win over Northampton.
These two sides take to the pitch on Saturday with both of them in the top four. Wolves won at Villa Park last season which was their first at the home of Aston Villa for 31 years and a victory on Saturday would give Wanderers three Premier League wins on the trot, which would be the first time they have achieved that. Wolves are in fine form after a thrashing of Northampton during the week in the Carling Cup and they have won four of their last five League games following on from last season’s good end to the season which saw them avoid relegation.
It’s a hard one to call but I reckon home advantage has to come out on top and I predict a 2-0 home win.
by Ryan Bailey, @ryanbaileysport