Aston Villa proving they are a real force when Saturday comes

Much as Villa have begun to loathe Wednesdays, so they have learned to love Saturdays.

Dean Smith.
Dean Smith.

Dean Smith's team host Wolves tonight looking to extend a seven-match unbeaten run in Saturday fixtures which has included six wins and not seen them concede a goal.

This week's 2-1 defeat at Sheffield United meant Villa have lost all four matches played on a Wednesday this season but they have followed each of the previous three with a win the next Saturday.

"Maybe my squad just like weekends!" laughed Smith when informed of the statistics during yesterday's pre-match press conference.

"It is a great stat and I will be reminding the players of that before we go out against Wolves. It is important to bounce back.

"I have reviewed the Sheffield United game and there were certain parts of it where we were better than against Leeds last weekend.

"I wasn't too disappointed with the performance but I was with the result. Everyone looks at the league table and sees it is a team we should be beating."

Defeat at Bramall Lane saw Villa lose ground in the race for European qualification and though a schedule which sees them play Everton and Tottenham twice during the run-in means no fixture could yet be described as defining, neither do they want to lose too much ground on their rivals.

A win this evening, meanwhile, would see them complete a league double over Wolves for the first time since 2004 and make them firm favourites to finish as the West Midlands best-placed team for only the second time since 2010.

Villa's first win in their run of Saturday successes was the 1-0 win at Molineux back in December, which came courtesy of Anwar El Ghazi's stoppage time penalty.

It was a victory which lifted them over Wolves in the table, where they have remained since, though Smith still have plenty of admiration for the work done by Nuno Espirito Santo in recent seasons and sympathy for the challenges his counterpart has faced this term.

"It has been a bit of a stop-start season for them," said Smith. "Obviously the injury to Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota going to Liverpool has hindered them a little bit because they are two top players from my point of view.

"But I still believe they are a really good team, with good players. I think we have seen over the last five or six games the consistency come back.

"They have found a different way of playing without Jimenez. When he was playing they could put crosses into the box and know he would get on the end of them.

"They have found different ways and that is a credit to the coaching staff. I have been very impressed with Wolves since they got promoted to the Premier League and I still am.

"We are in one of the toughest leagues of the world and each week you are as capable of winning as losing.

"You have to continually evolve. If you stand still you know there is every chance of getting dragged into trouble. Wolves have not been a club which has stood still.

"They sold one of the best players to Liverpool in Jota but then they have someone like Pedro Neto to replace him."

Villa are likely to be without their star man Jack Grealish for the fourth straight match as he continues to nurse a shin injury. Matty Cash (hamstring) and Kortney Hause (foot) remain out, though both are nearing a return to training.

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