Wolves v Aston Villa: Five key derby day battles
With Wolves set to face Aston Villa in one of the biggest clashes of the season so far, we look at some of the match-ups that could dictate the result on the weekend.
Our Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers and group sports editor Russell Youll detail players on each side of the pitch.
But which players will come out on top?
Danny Batth v Jonathan Kodjia
Tim Spiers: Wolves’ defence has been excellent keeping eight clean sheets in 14 matches.
Their strength is in numbers so Villa will look to isolate the three centre-halves.
On his day, Kodjia has the beating of anyone so defensive organisation and discipline will be important.
Russell Youll: This is one area I think Villa could pose a problem.
Kodjia’s movement, twisting and turning could be tricky for Batth, particularly in the penalty area.
Kodjia is such an instinctive player you have the feeling he doesn’t know what he is going to do next – so how could Batth?
There’s a good chance Kodjia could win a penalty.
Ruben Neves v Conor Hourihane
TS: Neves possesses the passing range to unlock any defence but his form was hit and miss before the international break.
With Villa likely to defend deep, Wolves will look to overload them from the flanks but through-balls inside the channels will also be an area to pinpoint and Neves is key to that.
RY: I’m looking forward to this one.
Hourihane has been Villa’s stand-out player for me this season. He’s a goal threat and Villa’s best ball player.
He’s looking the player he was at Barnsley but he is facing a classier opponent in Neves than most he has come up against this season.
Hourihane may have the legs on Neves but the Portuguese looks like he has the greater passing ability. Too close to call.
Diogo Jota v Ahmed Elmohamady
TS: Elmohamady’s defensive capabilities are a potential weakness to exploit.
Jota has scored six times already and if he and Cavaleiro are at the top of their game a Wolves victory looks the more likely result.
RY: A head-to-head that concerns me from a Villa perspective.
Elmohamady has been impressive at right-back but Jota is on fire.
I think if he gets a run on Elmohamady there could be problems, particularly if that allows him to come infield. Elmohamady has a big job to do for Villa tomorrow.
Ivan Cavaleiro v Alan Hutton
TS: Cavaleiro produced arguably his best performance in a Wolves shirt at Burton two weeks ago, helping tee up three of Wolves’ four goals.
Cavaleiro will look to cut inside where possible but if Hutton has that covered then Matt Doherty on the overlap comes into play.
RY: I’m guessing Hutton will be the man to come in at left-back for the suspended Neil Taylor. And he will need to have one of his better games to deal with Cavaleiro cutting inside.
That said, that could help Hutton who is stronger on his right side.
The Scot can be hot-headed and is tough in the tackle – but he’s always at risk of bookings.
If he plays, Hutton will let Cavaleiro know he’s there early on.
Leo Bonatini v John Terry
TS: Bonatini’s strength on the ball and his link-up play has been key to Wolves’ early success.
He won’t have faced anyone like John Terry though and how the Brazilian copes with Terry’s strength and experience will dictate how much space Wolves can create.
RY: If Bonatini starts, it could help Terry. Terry has presence and is classy on the ball but his pace is gone.
I expect Villa to defend deep to cut the space available for Wolves to run in behind.
Experience could be telling in this battle with the Villa skipper looking to shepherd the young Brazilian away from goal.