The Villans’ trip down to London proved to be a fruitless one on Tuesday, as they lost 2-0. The first eighteen minutes, however, showed that the Villa boys were ready to fight for all three points and the visitors looked the better team. The Hammers seemed very off key and it seemed as if they were there for the taking. Unfortunately, Jordan Ayew took things too far when he blatantly elbowed Aaron Cresswell in the face in an ‘off the ball’ incident in front of the linesman. Although it looked like Cresswell was pinching Jordan Ayew’s neck, the elbow cannot be justified in any way. It was a stupid decision which deserved a red card.
Michail Antonio and Cheikhou Kouyate scored the goals to ultimately give West Ham United the victory but Garde’s men showed spirit and determination to keep the home side at bay. They went into the half time break at 0-0 and it was only in the final hour that the Hammers were able to break the deadlock. The second goal came from a counter-attack late on in the game when the Villabs were awarded a corner and took the chance try and snatch a point with only ten men.
Next up, Villa welcome Norwich City to Villa Park for a game the home side simply has to win. Should Villa win and Sunderland lose to Liverpool, then the B6 side will only be three points behind the Black Cats and seven points behind the Canaries, who currently occupy the seventeenth spot, currently two points above the relegation zone.
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Date: Saturday 6th February 2016
Referee: Martin Atkinson
The injuries have racked up for Aston Villa in recent weeks so it beggars belief that the club’s main men didn’t try harder to bring in a striker. Currently, the only striker who is fit enough to play upfront is Gabriel Agbonlahor, who is still looking a little off key due to a lengthy spell out on the sidelines. However, over the last few years Agbonlahor has enjoyed playing against Norwich City as he has put in some of his best displays in a Villa shirt against the Canaries throughout the last couple of seasons. Garde and Villa fans alike will hope today will be no exception.
Libor Kozak has been ruled out for a month as it was revealed that he has a fractured bone in his ankle. The striker really has had the worst luck since joining Aston Villa.
Rudy Gestede, Carlos Sanchez and Alan Hutton are all ruled out because of hamstring injuries but the trio may not be out for too long as they are stepping up their fitness bids.
Ashley Westwood looks set to make his return from a calf problem which made him miss the West Ham United game and, if selected, I think his presence will be telling today as this might mean Leandro Bacuna will be pushed forward into an attacking role if possible.
Adama Traore will be back in about a month. For now, he remains a long term absentee along with Jordan Amavi.
Alexander Tettey will miss out due to suspension after picking up ten yellow cards this season.
Graham Dorrans may miss out due to illness.
Gary O’Neil is back after serving a three match ban.
Robbie Brady will be back after suffering from illness.
The danger man:
Although the Canaries are clearly struggling in the league, they do seem to score their fair share of goals. Luckily for us, they tend to concede a lot of goals too.
The man to watch up front is Dieumerci Mbokani. The forward hasn’t exactly set the league alight but has still scored four goals, including a goal against the Villans back in December.
Robbie Brady is a player who attracted a lot of interest a few years ago and eventually Norwich City enticed him. The left-sided defender is very good at set-pieces and is able to deliver dangerous balls into the box from set pieces. His crossing ability is also very good, and the Villa players down the right hand side will have to close him down if they are to minimise Brady’s impact.
Wes Hoolahan is a player who most Villa fans would’ve been happy with if our club had bought him. When Paul Lambert was in charge of the club, he made various attempts to bring Hoolahan to the club. The tricky midfielder is the one player who we can’t allow to settle as he has the ability to create chances for his team-mates. He will look to drop in between the lines and pick up the ball just outside the box in order to play someone in or use good footwork to get past his opponent.
The Villans have only won once in the last five games in all competitions, drawing twice and losing twice (L L D W D).
At home, they have won twice, drawn twice and lost one in all competitions, which isn’t bad (L W D W D).
In the league, the Villans have won once, lost twice, and drawn twice in the last five games (L D D W L).
Today’s visitors have lost all five of their last five games in all competitions (L L L L L).
Their away form isn’t the greatest either, with them only winning one game in the last five in all competitions (L L L W L).
In the league, the Canaries have only won one game in the last five games, losing four (L L L L W).
In the past:
This afternoon’s home side has a great record against Norwich City, for whom Aston Villa is something of a bogey team.
In the last five games between the two sides, the Villans have won four times while the Canaries have won once.
The corresponding fixture between the two sides came as recently as December, when the Villans played poorly and lost 2-0 in a really underwhelming game. Hopefully this time round Garde’s charges will be able to do the business and earn those three valuable points.