Is Wolves vs Aston Villa The New Midlands Rivalry? We Asked The Fans...

With Birmingham and West Brom in the Championship, there is a new route for bragging rights in the West Midlands
10:00, 10 Nov 2019

It's the big one in the Midlands on Sunday as Wolves host Aston Villa in the Premier League.

But just how serious a rivalry is it?

As the only Midlands representatives in the top-flight this campaign following Villa's return, fans won't have far to travel for this one.

Villa's fierce foes Birmingham have been stuck in the Championship for nearly a decade, while Wolves' enemy West Brom were relegated just as Nuno Espirito Santo's men came up in 2018.

We caught up with The Villa View (Daniel Bardell) and Talking Wolves (Dave Azzopardi) to get the lowdown...

How big is this rivalry?

WW: It’s a strange one, in my eyes it’s just a game versus a local side, and I’m sure people will say the same. However, I know plenty of fans would want the bragging rights!

AV: Bigger in Wolves’ eyes than ours. When you’ve been the most successful team in the Midlands for pretty much your entire existence, you will obviously pick up jealousy along the way. Fair play to Wolves, fantastic team, fantastic manager and a really strong set up behind the scenes, but they’ve finished ahead of us twice in my lifetime.

The rivalry like means more to them than it does us. I couldn’t believe they’d just won at Manchester City, yet were singing about Aston Villa. Why?

Of course I want to win, but I want to win every game. Wolves isn’t a derby of the ilk of our other West Midlands ties.

How does it compare to Villa v Birmingham and Wolves v WBA?

WW: The Black Country Derby between Wolves and West Brom is much bigger than this. I think the only reason fans class this as a ‘rivarly’ is due to how close we were in the promotion race a couple of years ago.

AV: Birmingham is the big one, that’s the game we care about. They hate us, we hate them. Easily one of the most ferocious derby games in the UK. The Wolves game just doesn’t hold a candle to it.

I don’t know why, but I class West Brom as a bigger derby than Wolves as well. I guess we’ve perhaps played them more in years gone by.

What do you think of the performance of Sunday's opposition during the last few seasons?

WW: They’ve started off a lot better this season than I expected. We all know how difficult the Championship is to get out of and Villa struggled with that but now they’re in the Premier League, they’re giving it a really good go.

AV: Obviously when we were fighting towards the top end of the Championship together there was a bit of antagonisation around Mendes’ involvement, looking back that was poor from our set up at the time and Wolves, in the end, went up as Champions and benefitted from actually having a proper plan rather than a fabricated one that led Villa fans down the garden path. Fair play to them.

The season they had last year was superb, I’d settle for anything like that for us this campaign. Personally I respect them, but it’s not like we are miles off them, despite being a season behind in terms of being back in the Premier League.

Do you think Wolves v Villa is here to stay in the top-flight for a good few years to come?

WW: Yes definitely. Wolves have adapted to life in the Premier League really well and as I say Villa look solid enough to stay in the league. I can see us both being at the top of Midlands football for the foreseeable future.

AV: Absolutely. There is a new breed of promoted club. Villa, Wolves and Sheffield United are showing this. I don’t think the gap between top of the Championship and bottom of the Premier League is as big as it once was.

Teams are coming up with the right setup behind the scenes, a way of playing and finding teams out that have been in the League a while.

The key for all three I just mentioned is the managers. All good fits, all get their respective club’s and fanbases and most importantly all have a philosophy.

What’s your favourite moment from past Villa v Wolves games?

WW: I loved our 2-0 win over Villa the last time we played them at Molineux. The atmosphere was electric that night and we played so well. I still love watching Diogo Jota’s goal from that game.

AV: 0-4 win at Molineux in 2004, my friend Thomas Hitzlsperger bagging a screamer as he so often did. Former Villa keeper Michael Oakes was in goal I believe.

Who, in 2019, is the bigger club?

WW: In terms of history, probably Villa, but if we’re looking at current success and squad etc, it has to be Wolves.

AV: Aston Villa always, we have a pull and we’re only going to get bigger now we are back in the top flight. Wolves have Europe this season and statistically have finished ahead of us the last two seasons, they have a certain attraction to continental players now as well due to their setup. However, we are Aston Villa and that speaks for itself.

Would you like to see more Midlands clubs in the Premier League or would you love to be the only representatives?

WW: I’m actually quite selfish so I’d love Wolves to be the only Midlands side in the Premier League. However, if there is ever a chance for West Brom and maybe even Birmingham to come back up again, that would be great for the fans and the league.

AV: The more the merrier, good for the region. Although I don’t miss the nerves with us not being in the same league as Birmingham.

Where will Sunday’s game be won and lost?

WW: Defensively I think. Both teams both have a decent defensive record so far this season but both back lines are prone to an error or two. Fingers crossed Wolves are solid and we can pounce on a shaky Villa back four!

AV: If we can cut out our second-half stalling and put in the kind of displays we have done in most first-halves we will cause them issues. Much will depend on whether Jack Grealish is fit as well. He’s vital away from home in terms of carrying the ball. There’s a few little subplots in the mix. Two good teams - should be a good game.

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