Emotions will be running high when Wolverhampton entertains Aston Villa in the English Championship on Saturday and one thinks that there are grounds for betting on a red card.
Former England manager Graham Taylor died on Thursday and two of the teams that he led were Wolverhampton and Aston Villa so they are sure to mark the occasion. Taylor managed Wolverhampton and Aston Villa either side of his stint as the boss of England, a tenure that ended in bitter disappointment when the Three Lions failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Actually, Taylor coached Aston Villa twice, returning to the Villans in 2002 before retiring from the managerial game.
Wolverhampton versus Aston Villa is a derby and, while both teams have greater rivals – Wolves hate West Bromwich and the Villains hate Birmingham – there is some animosity between the sides. Another factor to consider is that Wolverhampton boss Paul Lambert used to manage Aston Villa and it would be fair to say that most Villains fans were glad to see the back of him. Lambert is going to cop a lot of flak from Aston Villa’s travelling supporters throughout Saturday’s English Championship match.
The reverse English Championship fixture – one in which Walter Zenga pitted his wits against Steve Bruce – resulted in a 1-1 draw. Aston Villa opened the scoring through Jonathan Kodjia’s penalty kick in the 15th minute and Wolverhampton equalised from the penalty mark 19 minutes courtesy of Helder Costa. Two penalty kicks and six yellow cards indicate that David Coote was a busy man with the whistle three months ago and one thinks that Tony Harrington will have lots to do this weekend.
Harrington is climbing the English refereeing ranks and, looking at his card statistics, it looks as though he has made a conscious decision to caution and dismiss players more regularly this term. Harrington has brandished 88 yellow cards and two red cards in his 20 appointments across all competitions this season. Last term, Harrington showed just 72 yellow cards and three red cards in his 30 gigs so the difference is quite stark. Increasing card counts is something that some referees do in order to get attention from the powers that be, the persons who determine which officials get promoted up the ladder. One thinks that Harrington is likely to card first and ask questions later in Saturday’s emotional English Championship local scrap.
The last time that Wolverhampton and Aston Villa met in a league game at Molineux was four years ago when the teams clashed in the English Premier League. Wolverhampton lost 2-3 to Aston Villa, giving away an early penalty kick and having a player sent off midway through the second half. So there is a recent head-to-head precedent for backing a red card also.
Taylor was one of English football’s most admired men and one thinks that everyone associated with Wolverhampton and Aston Villa will be giving their all to honour him on Saturday. The atmosphere inside Molineux will be white hot and the odds are stacked in favour of there being an incident or two. William Hill is offering odds of +210 about Harrington expelling at least one Wolverhampton or Aston Villa player and, all things considered, that appeals as an exotic wager that is worth snapping up.
Wolves v Aston Villa – Red Card in the Match
Saturday 14th January, 17:30 GMT