Aston Villa’s European hopes suffered another setback as they were held to a goalless draw by Wolves in their West Midlands derby.
The hosts, who suffered a surprise loss to Sheffield United in midweek, dominated the early stages with Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa both hitting the crossbar.
But with the influential Jack Grealish again missing as he recovers from injury, Villa faded after the break as Wolves sparked into life.
Having failed to create a chance of note during the first period, Nuno Espirito Santo’s visitors somehow contrived to miss several gilt-edged chances to snatch all three points.
Romain Saiss blazed an effort over the bar from practically on the goal-line after Conor Coady had headed against a post, while another close-range effort from Coady drew a superb save from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to ensure the spoils were shared.
The result leaves Villa ninth in the table on 40 points while Wolves remain 12th, five points further back.
Villa desperate for Grealish return
Defeat by the Blades had left Villa boss Dean Smith calling for an instant reaction to boost hopes of qualifying for Europe for the first time in a decade.
And when Watkins fired a 25-yard effort against the bar it appeared to be a promising early signal of intent.
With Wolves barely able to get out of their own half it seemed only a matter of time before the hosts went in front, particularly when Konsa rattled the woodwork from Bertrand Traore’s cross.
But until another late Konsa effort, that was the best Villa could muster.
With Grealish watching from the stands, Smith must have wished that he could turned to his talismanic captain as the game began to slip away.
Instead, Ross Barkley, a substitute for the third game running, was introduced but did little to push his case for a starting berth, managing just five touches in the Wolves half during his 35-minute cameo.
With Villa six points off Europa League qualification and seven from a Champions League spot, Smith will hope Grealish’s impending return can prevent a season of promise ending with a whimper.
A tale of two halves for Wolves
Only Burnley, Newcastle, West Brom and Sheffield United have managed fewer goals on their travels than Wolves this season.
And having seemingly been set up to utilise the pace of Pedro Neto and Adama Traore on the counter, their first-half performance underlined many of the reasons why.
While Neto and Traore offer plenty with the ball at their feet they were scarcely given the opportunity to threaten as Wolves failed to record an effort on target.
Often receiving the ball deep, the duo were repeatedly smothered by Villa’s three midfield players, and on the rare opportunities they managed to advance little arrived by the way of support.
Only Sheffield United have failed to score in more opening periods in the Premier League this term, but Wolves improved markedly after the break.
Neto tested Martinez five minutes after the interval to set the tone and both Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves appeared to have been given the freedom to roam forward.
A well-worked corner routine saw Coady hit the post before a stretching Saiss lifted the ball over the bar from barely a yard out.
Wolves were unfortunate that their next opportunity from Willian Jose’s skewed shot also fell to their England defender Coady, who while excellent at the other end of the pitch – making more clearances than any other player (eight) – is not noted for his finishing prowess.
‘It was the proverbial game of two halves’ – what they said
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “We were good first half, created some good chances and should’ve gone in ahead. They were good second half and created chances as well and they should’ve gone ahead. It was the proverbial game of two halves.
“Wolves upped their tempo and I couldn’t work out if it was us being poor or them being better. I think it was a bit of both. We’ve created chances in the first half with some of our best play this season. We wanted to replicate it in the second half but unfortunately didn’t.
“It probably is a point game but I was sitting at half-time thinking how are we not in front but I think it’s a fair result.”
On Jack Grealish: “He was back running on the anti-gravity treadmill a few days ago so once he’s pain free he should be ready to go.”
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “The first half we didn’t play well but everything changed in the second half. We improved and I thought we were good.
“With the honesty I have with Conor [Coady], I think he should have done better [scored]. We were much better with the pressing in the second half. We played much better.”
Villa keep another clean sheet – the stats
- Wolves remain unbeaten in their last five away Premier League games against Aston Villa (W2 & D3), having lost on six of their previous seven trips to Villa Park in the top-flight before this (W1).
- Aston Villa have failed to score in each of their last four home Premier League games against Wolves – only against Chelsea (a run of five between October 1995 – January 2000) and Man Utd (a run of five between March 2003 – December 2006) have they had a longer run of games without scoring against a specific opponent at Villa Park in the competition.
- Aston Villa have kept 14 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, their highest tally in a single top-flight campaign since 2009-10 under Martin O’Neill (15), whilst only league leaders Man City (15) have kept more shut outs in the competition in 2020-21.
- Wolves (P6 W0 D3 L3) are one of only two sides that remain winless in Premier League games played on a Saturday this season alongside Sheffield United (P9 W0 D0 L9).
- Under Dean Smith, Aston Villa have won just two of their 12 home league games without Jack Grealish (D5 L5) and remain winless in such matches since a 2-1 victory against Bristol City in the Championship in April 2019 (P4 W0 D1 L3 since then).
- Wolves have won just one of their last 10 away Premier League games (D4 L5), with that victory coming at Southampton in February.
- No Argentine goalkeeper has more Premier League clean sheets than Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez (20, level with Julian Speroni).
- Wolves captain Conor Coady has had a shot on target in his last two Premier League games, after not registering a single one in his first 102 appearances in the competition.
Aston Villa travel to Newcastle in their next Premier League fixture on Friday, 12 March (20:00 GMT). Wolves welcome Liverpool to Molineux in their next top-flight game on Monday, 15 March (20:00).
Player of the match
with an average of 7.51
Squad number5Player nameMings
Squad number26Player nameMartínez
Squad number18Player nameTargett
Squad number11Player nameWatkins
Squad number4Player nameKonsa
Squad number7Player nameMcGinn
Squad number27Player nameAhmed El Mohamady
Squad number17Player nameTrézéguet
Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz
Squad number25Player nameSanson
Squad number41Player nameRamsey
Squad number15Player nameTraoré
Squad number39Player nameDavis
Squad number20Player nameBarkley
Squad number8Player nameRúben Neves
Squad number7Player namePedro Neto
Squad number16Player nameCoady
Squad number17Player nameFábio Silva
Squad number11Player nameRui Patrício
Squad number28Player nameJoão Moutinho
Squad number19Player nameJonny
Squad number27Player nameSaïss
Squad number22Player nameNélson Semedo
Squad number32Player nameDendoncker
Squad number37Player nameTraoré
Squad number12Player nameWillian José
- 27El Mohamady
- 6Douglas Luiz
- 25SansonBooked at 27minsSubstituted forBarkleyat 61′minutes
- 15TraoréSubstituted forRamseyat 83′minutes
- 17TrézéguetSubstituted forDavisat 78′minutes
- 11Rui Patrício
- 22Nélson Semedo
- 28João Moutinho
- 19Castro Otto
- 12Da SilvaSubstituted forFábio Silvaat 78′minutes
- 17Fábio Silva
Match ends, Aston Villa 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.
Foul by Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Matt Targett (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Ezri Konsa Ngoyo (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a corner.
Attempt saved. Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Conor Coady.
Fábio Silva (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Ezri Konsa Ngoyo (Aston Villa).
Foul by Fábio Silva (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Ezri Konsa Ngoyo (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Aston Villa. Ross Barkley tries a through ball, but Jacob Ramsey is caught offside.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Jacob Ramsey replaces Bertrand Traoré because of an injury.
Foul by Adama Traoré (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Ahmed El Mohamady (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Fábio Silva replaces Willian José.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Keinan Davis replaces Trézéguet.
Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Emiliano Martínez.
Attempt saved. Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Willian José.
Attempt missed. Willian José (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Leander Dendoncker following a set piece situation.