Aston Villa Club Focus – The Midlands derby set to provide McLeish’s toughest task to date

New Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish faces his biggest test so far, as he entertains Mick McCarthy’s Wolverhampton Wanderers side at Villa Park in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Wolves are flying high with two wins out of two in the Premier League and they will be looking to continue their good form against a Villa side who have won their opening two matches at Villa Park this season.

Villa beat League Two opposition in Hereford United midweek thanks to two goals in the last 10 minutes from young defender Eric Lichaj and Nathan Delfouneso. A youthful side eventually overcame Hereford and McLeish will be looking back to his big guns, especially forward Gabriel Agbonlahor, as he looks to usurp Wolves in the derby.

Agbonlahor has been in scintillating form so far this season and scored his 50th goal for Villa in the Premier League against Blackburn Rovers last weekend. That wonderful effort has drawn plaudits from teammate Stiliyan Petrov, who has called on the forward to continue his impressive showings.

Petrov said: “When you have Gabby on your team, I think the opposition are frightened of his pace, of his strength, in fact everything that he’s got. If he’s on the top of his game, I think he’s untouchable. He can do whatever he wants. He can get himself in these positions and if we can keep him fully fit for this season, then he can get between 15 and 20 goals.

Agbonlahor’s strike partner Darren Bent also got off the mark against Blackburn last weekend and young Villa forward Andreas Weimann has commented on the compassionate side that Bent shows towards the young strikers at Villa Park. Weimann revealed that Bent stays behind after training to work on finishing with Weimann and after the young forward’s performance against Hereford in midweek, the striker could soon be involved in the action earlier than expected.

McLeish is hoping that Emile Heskey and defender Luke Young will be fit for the Wolves clash after they were substituted with minor injuries in last week’s home win against Blackburn.

Wolves took all three points in the game at Villa Park last season and McLeish will be looking to turn Villa Park into a fortress, just like he did with Birmingham at St. Andrew’s when he was in charge.

The Villa manager believes that the club should not get carried away, despite a positive start and expects his players to continue to work hard and make good progress. McLeish is still looking to add to his squad this summer and was looking into the possibility of bringing in Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson. However, the Irishman has suffered an ankle ligament injury in training which will rule him out for up to four weeks, and it is unknown whether McLeish will bring in Gibson in the hope that his injury is not as serious as expected.

Villa fans will be hoping their team can continue their good form and pick up all three points in the derby at Villa Park. A win for McLeish’s side would put them top of the Premier League table for the meantime and would provide another massive confidence boost ahead of the coming season.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Aston Villa v Wolves

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