Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers meet for the second time this season at Villa Park on Saturday evening.
Neither team has covered themselves in glory of late and just three places and five points separate the two clubs heading into the West Midlands derby.
After an impressive start to the campaign, Villa’s form has dropped off a little in recent weeks with just four wins from their last 12 Premier League games. Wolves, meanwhile, have managed four in 17 since losing star striker Raul Jimenez to injury in November.
Injuries have certainly played a part in Wolves’ poor season and Villa have been hit by the loss of star man Jack Grealish in recent weeks. He is unlikely to be fit enough to face Wolves on Saturday.
Dean Smith’s Villa won a closely fought contest at Molineux back in December courtesy of a penalty from Anwar El Ghazi in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
But how will this one finish? Mark Lawrenson and Michael Owen make their predictions:
Lawrenson – Villa 0 Wolves 1
“Aston Villa are becoming very difficult to predict,” said Lawrenson in his weekly predictions column for the BBC. “They showed they could cope without Jack Grealish when they beat Leeds last weekend, but they were pretty poor in his absence as they lost to Sheffield United on Wednesday.
“Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were well beaten in the end by Manchester City in midweek but they were still hard to break down. They didn’t get much of a chance to attack against City but, apart from that game, they have had a bit more bite recently too.”
Owen – Villa 2 Wolves 1
“Aston Villa were out of sorts against Sheffield United midweek, but they do have the opportunity to rectify that in the Midlands derby,” Owen told Bet Victor.
“Despite going down 4-1 to Manchester City, that was Wolves’ only defeat in six matches. That’s decent form, however, on closer inspection they have simply drawn far too many this season.
“Again, Jack Grealish misses out. However, if Villa can forget their midweek misery at Bramall Lane and reproduce a performance similar to that we saw against Leeds, I think they’ll win.”