Villa held by Wolves in West Midlands derby

Romain Saiss had the best opportunity to break the deadlock for Wolves

Aston Villa’s European hopes suffered another setback as they were held to a goalless draw by Wolves in their West Midlands derby.

The hosts, who suffered a surprise loss to Sheffield United in midweek, dominated the early stages with Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa both hitting the crossbar.

But with the influential Jack Grealish again missing as he recovers from injury, Villa faded after the break as Wolves sparked into life.

Having failed to create a chance of note during the first period, Nuno Espirito Santo’s visitors somehow contrived to miss several gilt-edged chances to snatch all three points.

Romain Saiss blazed an effort over the bar from practically on the goal-line after Conor Coady had headed against a post, while another close-range effort from Coady drew a superb save from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to ensure the spoils were shared.

The result leaves Villa ninth in the table on 40 points while Wolves remain 12th, five points further back.

Villa desperate for Grealish return

Defeat by the Blades had left Villa boss Dean Smith calling for an instant reaction to boost hopes of qualifying for Europe for the first time in a decade.

And when Watkins fired a 25-yard effort against the bar it appeared to be a promising early signal of intent.

With Wolves barely able to get out of their own half it seemed only a matter of time before the hosts went in front, particularly when Konsa rattled the woodwork from Bertrand Traore’s cross.

But until another late Konsa effort, that was the best Villa could muster.

With Grealish watching from the stands, Smith must have wished that he could turned to his talismanic captain as the game began to slip away.

Instead, Ross Barkley, a substitute for the third game running, was introduced but did little to push his case for a starting berth, managing just five touches in the Wolves half during his 35-minute cameo.

With Villa six points off Europa League qualification and seven from a Champions League spot, Smith will hope Grealish’s impending return can prevent a season of promise ending with a whimper.

A tale of two halves for Wolves

Only Burnley, Newcastle, West Brom and Sheffield United have managed fewer goals on their travels than Wolves this season.

And having seemingly been set up to utilise the pace of Pedro Neto and Adama Traore on the counter, their first-half performance underlined many of the reasons why.

While Neto and Traore offer plenty with the ball at their feet they were scarcely given the opportunity to threaten as Wolves failed to record an effort on target.

Often receiving the ball deep, the duo were repeatedly smothered by Villa’s three midfield players, and on the rare opportunities they managed to advance little arrived by the way of support.

Only Sheffield United have failed to score in more opening periods in the Premier League this term, but Wolves improved markedly after the break.

Neto tested Martinez five minutes after the interval to set the tone and both Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves appeared to have been given the freedom to roam forward.

A well-worked corner routine saw Coady hit the post before a stretching Saiss lifted the ball over the bar from barely a yard out.

Wolves were unfortunate that their next opportunity from Willian Jose’s skewed shot also fell to their England defender Coady, who while excellent at the other end of the pitch – making more clearances than any other player (eight) – is not noted for his finishing prowess.

More to follow.

Player of the match

MingsTyrone Mings

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number5Player nameMings

  2. Squad number26Player nameMartínez

  3. Squad number18Player nameTargett

  4. Squad number11Player nameWatkins

  5. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

  6. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  7. Squad number27Player nameAhmed El Mohamady

  8. Squad number17Player nameTrézéguet

  9. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

  10. Squad number25Player nameSanson

  11. Squad number41Player nameRamsey

  12. Squad number15Player nameTraoré

  13. Squad number39Player nameDavis

  14. Squad number20Player nameBarkley

Wolverhampton Wanderers

  1. Squad number8Player nameRúben Neves

  2. Squad number7Player namePedro Neto

  3. Squad number16Player nameCoady

  4. Squad number17Player nameFábio Silva

  5. Squad number11Player nameRui Patrício

  6. Squad number28Player nameJoão Moutinho

  7. Squad number19Player nameJonny

  8. Squad number27Player nameSaïss

  9. Squad number22Player nameNélson Semedo

  10. Squad number32Player nameDendoncker

  11. Squad number37Player nameTraoré

  12. Squad number12Player nameWillian José

Line-ups

Aston Villa

Formation 4-3-3

  • 26Martínez
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 4Konsa
  • 5Mings
  • 18Targett
  • 7McGinn
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 25SansonBooked at 27minsSubstituted forBarkleyat 61′minutes
  • 15TraoréSubstituted forRamseyat 83′minutes
  • 11Watkins
  • 17TrézéguetSubstituted forDavisat 78′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Heaton
  • 3Taylor
  • 19Nakamba
  • 20Barkley
  • 22Engels
  • 39Davis
  • 41Ramsey
  • 52Philogene-Bidace
  • 62Hayden

Wolves

Formation 3-4-3

  • 11Rui Patrício
  • 32Dendoncker
  • 16Coady
  • 27Saïss
  • 22Nélson Semedo
  • 8Neves
  • 28João Moutinho
  • 19Castro Otto
  • 7Neto
  • 12Da SilvaSubstituted forFábio Silvaat 78′minutes
  • 37Traoré

Substitutes

  • 2Hoever
  • 3Aït-Nouri
  • 15Boly
  • 17Fábio Silva
  • 18Gibbs-White
  • 20Vitinha
  • 21Ruddy
  • 49Kilman

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