Mick McCarthy’s men haven’t tasted victory since they beat Sunderland at the start of December and sit just a point above the relegation zone. Its been another season of disappointment for Wanderers fans who saw their team win just twice in 19 games. However their 1-1 draw with Tottenham last week did seem to mark a turning point as they more than matched Harry Redknapp’s title chasers. Steven Fletcher was once again amongst the scorers and his goals will prove crucial in the second half of the campaign. Keeping them out at the wrong end has been their biggest problem and they’ll need to defend much better against Villa. Captain Roger Johnson will need to be wary of Darren Bent’s movement in the penalty area whilst his full backs will need to quell the threat of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marc Albrighton. Stop them from getting the ball to Bent and Wolves will have a platform to go on and win only their fifth game of the season.
Villa are also desperate for three points after winning just twice over Christmas and losing their position in the top half. A strong start to the season came undone at the beginning of October after a heavy defeat to Manchester City. Alex McLeish’s side have won just three games since with their inconsistent performances giving supporters cause to moan. Their 3-1 win over Chelsea on New Years Eve wasn’t built on as they lost to Swansea at home 48 hours later leaving fans frustrated. The return to form of Stephen Ireland has been a surprise bright spot in the last month or so with the midfielder becoming the clubs chief playmaker. His intelligent link up play has seen him become an important part of the Villa attack and his link up with Bent and Agbonlahor will be key to ensuring a much needed victory is attained at Molineux.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 16th : 18 points
Last six: D L D D D L
Team news: Jamie O’Hara could return to boost Wolves’ survival bid but Ronald Zubar won’t make this one.
Key Player: Steven Fletcher
Another impressive performance from Fletcher saw him notch another important goal in the draw with Tottenham. The Scotland striker has everything in his locker and if he continues scoring Wolves have a chance of staying up.
Aston Villa 13th: 24 points
Last six: D L W D L L
Team news: Villa have four first team players injured with Emile Heskey and Carlos Cuellar amongst them.
Key Player: Stephen Ireland
December saw the former Manchester City midfielder emerge from the Villa shadows and take up the playmaking mantle. Ireland has excelled in the last couple of weeks in an advanced midfield role and it’s likely he will initiate every attack at Molineux
This one ended 0-0 back in August and neither side have really improved since then. Villa continue to drift around in mid-table mediocrity whilst Wolves are still battling to keep their head above water. It’s likely both teams will cancel each other out as they chase a confidence boosting win.