Julen Lopetegui and Unai Emery have already faced off once this season, taking charge of a 1-1 draw between Villarreal and Sevilla in La Liga in September. This will be the first time that two managers have faced off in both the Premier League and La Liga in the same season, and it’s Emery who has the brighter prospect right now.
Taking charge of Villa just before the World Cup break, Emery beat Manchester United in his first game in charge and followed that up by beating Brighton, moving his side away from the relegation zone. Although Villa did return from the World Cup in defeat to Liverpool, it was a close game, and they rebounded to beat Tottenham 2-0 – opening up a seven-point gap between them and the bottom three.
Inside the bottom three are Lopetegui’s Wolves, and he hasn’t been given as much time as his former La Liga rival. While Wolves sacked Bruno Lage in October, they stuck with an interim boss and only gave Lopetegui the reins once the Premier League had broken for the World Cup – despite announcing his arrival just before.
That meant Wolves’ first Premier League game back was also Lopetegui’s first in charge, and things were positive, with the Midlands side coming from behind to beat Everton thanks to a late winner. However, last time out Wolves were beaten 1-0 by Manchester United, dropping them down to 19th. Lopetegui can’t really afford for a losing streak to start.
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Aston Villa vs Wolves match stats
Wolves’ defence showed they may be tough to break down under Lopetegui, so Villa will be looking toward Ollie Watkins to help open them up. The Englishman has been directly involved in at least one goal in his last three home Premier League appearances, scoring twice and provided one assist.
While this isn’t the Midlands derby, it’s still a derby and they can be feisty affairs, which may not bode well for Aston Villa. Averaging 2.35 yellow cards per game in the Premier League this season, only Man Utd have a worse record, while Wolves’ average is 2.12.
2 April 2022 – Wolves 2-1 Aston Villa – Premier League
16 October 2021 – Aston Villa 2-3 Wolves – Premier League
6 March 2021 – Aston Villa 0-0 Wolves – Premier League
12 December 2020 – Wolves 0-1 Aston Villa – Premier League
27 June 2020 – Wolves 2-1 Aston Villa – Premier League
Wolves are unbeaten in their past three games against Aston Villa, doing the league double over their Midlands rivals last season. They haven’t won three in a row against Villa in the league since 1960, when they went on a run of seven straight victories.