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Wolves v Aston Villa: The combined XI

By Luke Hatfield | Football | Published:

It's derby time in the Premier League, with Wolves taking on Villa for the first time this season in the top flight.

Who makes this Wolves and Aston Villa combined XI?

With that in mind, our digital football journalist Luke Hatfield has prepared his combined XI from both teams for you to consider.

Who makes the cut? Who's riding the bench? And who's not making the squad? Luke guides us through his choices here...

The details

For the purposes of this XI, I'm considering all current players, injured or not here - and in terms of formation I'm opting for 4-3-3.

This is no slight against the formation used by Wolves, I just felt it the best way to get the players into the team, in my opinion.

Goalkeeper

Tom Heaton

Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton

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This was one of the hardest decisions I found myself making throughout this XI - and for good reason.

Both Heaton and Patricio have had solid seasons so far, so this was a bit of a toss up.

Both are capable of phenomenal saves between the sticks, and it's hard to split them.

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Rui Patricio's kicking has improved greatly since his arrival at Molineux, but I felt that Heaton possesses a slightly more commanding presence in the penalty area.

Admittedly, the Portuguese stopper has one more clean sheet than Heaton, but the Villa goalkeeper has more saves to his name, more punches, more catches and more clearances over the campaign so far.

It was a close one, but Heaton just takes the biscuit between the sticks.

Defence

Jonny Otto

Wolverhampton Wanderers's Jonny (left)

I've always felt that Jonny has been a tad underrated during his time at Molineux.

Whilst he's not the flashiest of defensive flankers, he gets the job done and often with minimal fuss.

Let's not forget he's a right sided player plying his trade on the left side of Wolves' defence - that makes him stand out as the clear option in this XI.

He might not offer quite as much going forward as Matt Targett would, but he's so reliable and disciplined.

What's more, he's the man who netted against Newcastle for Wolves too, admittedly off Martin Dubravka's error - but it still needed tucking away.

Willy Boly

Willy Boly of Wolverhampton Wanderers. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

Willy Boly has been such a presence for Wolves since joining from Porto in 2018 - it's a crying shame for Nuno's side that he's been ruled out for so long.

He still makes this XI of course, and he was one of my first names on the team sheet thanks to his sheer quality.

He's big and powerful. but he also possesses grace and composure on the ball - something not often associated with 6'4" centre backs.

He chips in with goals too, which is a big help for any side battling it out in the Premier League.

I'm amazed he's not been the subject of some serious interest from one the country's biggest clubs - he's arguably the best centre back outside the top six.

Tyrone Mings

Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura (right)

What more needs to be said about Tyrone Mings so far this season?

Many a football fan criticised Villa when they coughed up £20m for the defender following his loan spell at Villa Park, but he's been a superb acquisition.

He's made his England debut already and captained Villa against Liverpool when they should have arguably earned a point.

He's been absolutely class for Villa, and that transfer fee suddenly seems like a bargain.

If Boly's the best defender outside those big clubs, Tyrone Mings isn't far behind at all.

You could do far worse than a centre back partnership of Mings and Boly, I'd argue that until the cows come home.

Frederic Guilbert

Burnley's Ashley Barnes (left) and Aston Villa's Frederic Guilbert

I can sense Wolves fans already hitting the comment section regarding this selection, but there's good reason behind me putting Guilbert into this side over Matt Doherty.

The Irishman has been a brilliant buy for Wolves, and his performances last season were superb. But in comparison, Guilbert has been a better performer this season.

In the top flight, Villa's flying French full back boasts more assists, more big chances created, way more crosses (at a higher percentage of accuracy too) and well over twice the number of tackles than Doherty.

Yes, Doherty has been battling a persistent knee problem and even has a goal to his name, but Guilbert edges in front of him in this XI.

Don't worry, Doc's one of the first names on the bench, if that's any kind of consolation.

Midfield

John McGinn

Aston Villa's John McGinn (left)

Is there a team outside of the top two John McGinn wouldn't get into?

The way the Scot has taken to the Premier League is nothing short of extraordinary.

He's netted three times already for Villa this season so far, as well as logging two assists - simply put, he's going to be a wanted man this summer, it's just a matter of whether Villa can hold on to him.

Whilst he may come across slightly unorthodox, his work rate and quality can't be denied. He'll be a real threat for Wolves to worry about at Molineux on Sunday.

An easy decision in this XI, he's edged out the likes of Leander Dendoncker and Ruben Neves to earn his place in this midfield.

Joao Moutinho

Joao Moutinho of Wolverhampton Wanderers. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

Like a fine wine, Joao Moutinho seems to be getting better and better with age.

I must admit, for £5m Joao Moutinho has been a phenomenal bit of business.

When Wolves originally signed him, I felt like it seemed like a player who would've been a good one to sign four or five years ago - but I've eaten those words and then some regarding him since.

He's quality on the ball, and the fact that he's outshone Ruben Neves since joining is a testament to how he plays and how he must look after himself.

He might not score week in, week out - but his value to Wolves can't be overstated.

Jack Grealish

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish (centre)

October player of the month nominee in the Premier League, Jack Grealish had to make this XI - like it or not.

Grealish has been superb so far this season and is deserving of the chit-chat surrounding a potential England call-up.

He offers something very different to many other midfielders in the Premier League, and really makes this Villa team tick.

Able to drag his team up the pitch, and a master at drawing fouls and creating opportunities, Grealish is deserving of the acclaim he's getting in the top flight.

A midfield of Grealish, McGinn and Moutinho would certainly be something to behold.

Attack

Diogo Jota

Calum Chambers of Arsenal and Diogo Jota of Wolverhampton Wanderers. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

Diogo Jota kicks off this very Wolves-focused front line.

The former loanee has been such a hit for Wolves, I actually find it quite hard to pick out who's more important for Nuno's side, him or Raul Jimenez (who we'll discuss in a little while).

He's so strong and a very adept dribbler, I know it was last season but I always recall the goal he scored against Manchester United at Molineux when I think of him.

The way he shrugged off Luke Shaw before firing home to cause absolute bedlam in Molineux was superb. It's just one of those goals that are synonymous with a player.

There's no telling how far this lad could go. Like McGinn with Villa, I think it's a matter of whether Wolves can hold on to him now, because he's destined for the top.

Raul Jimenez

Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

A simple decision for this XI, and one you'd be mad not to make.

The impact Raul Jimenez has had for Wolves, considering he came in on-loan not looking like a world beater at his previous clubs says volumes about the club's recruitment.

He's been an absolute gem of a signing, and as centre-forwards go, he offers a bit of everything.

Villa will face a real task to keep him quiet at Molineux on Sunday. If he has a good game, I feel like Wolves often come away winning.

By the way, £30m is some bit of business for a striker capable of scoring and creating the goals he does.

Adama Traore

Adama Traore of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

There' no player quite like Adama Traore, both Villa and Wolves fans can testify to that.

We often saw the raw tools available to Traore during his short stint at Villa, but he's really honed them since joining Wolves - and after a sticky first season is now becoming one of the most feared wingers in the league.

His end product is still the main question, but he's taken so many steps already, you need only look at his goals against Man City to see how far he's come.

No defender will enjoy the proposition of facing Traore in full flow, and Matt Targett will not enjoy the sight of him either from the start or around the hour mark at Molineux if Nuno opts to bring him off the bench.

Powerful, unrelenting and so, so fast - he starts in my XI...

Subs:

Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Bjorn Engels, Ruben Neves, Marvelous Nakamba, Wesley, Anwar El Ghazi

Luke Hatfield

By Luke Hatfield
Digital Sports Journalist - @LHatfield_Star

Digital Sports Journalist based in Wolverhampton working on the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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