As Villa embark on their final three Premier League games of the season, optimism couldn’t be higher at the club. Monday’s 6-1 demolition job of Sunderland has breathed fresh impetus into the claret and blue troops and the 2,400 strong travelling army will head to Carrow Road tomorrow full of expectancy and anticipation that another victory could well be on the cards.
Much of the pre-game build-up will be focused on the dugout and the return of Paul Lambert to his old stomping ground. Lambert was a huge success at Norwich and can take full credit for turning them into the Premier League team that they are today. After guiding them to back-to-back promotions and securing their top flight position last season, this will be the first time that their former manager has returned to Carrow Road in the Premier League. The reception for the Scotsman is sure to be a heated one but in my opinion Norwich fans should be a tad lenient on their former messiah and show him the respect he deserves for guiding them to where they are now.
However, much of the travelling army will be full of anticipation that we can all but secure Premier League safety when five o’clock sounds on Big Ben. Norwich are a team struggling for form and their players have found it hard of late to score goals, something which Villa seem to have no problem doing recently. With four wins from the last seven games, many fans feel that this would be a perfect opportunity to make it five from eight, myself included. Our forwards have been firing for the vast majority of the season and even the defence is starting to look more of a solid unit than it was earlier in the season. Also, there is the fact that we have already won convincingly at Carrow Road this season: a 4-1 demolition in the Capital One Cup was an early Christmas present before it all started to go wrong for Villa.
So then, what can we expect from Villa tomorrow when kick off arrives? Too many times the boys in claret and blue have had a good result but then not followed it through and continued in the same vein in the following games, the Liverpool game being a fine example. I suggest an approach of cautious optimistism when it comes to predictions and bets for the game tomorrow, but if I had to choose then I would have to go with my heart and say Villa to win – and convincingly too.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy is in contention to make his return for Norwich after five months out with a thigh injury in Saturday’s game. Defender Sebastien Bassong has shaken off an ankle problem but fellow centre-half Michael Turner (groin) is still sidelined. Forward Kei Kamara plays the last match of his loan spell from Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City, and will return to the United States unless a permanent transfer is agreed.
Aston Villa could be without defender Ciaran Clark and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi again when they travel to Carrow Road. The pair missed Monday’s 6-1 win over Sunderland, with Clark struggling with a foot injury and El Ahmadi nursing a groin strain. They will be assessed ahead of the match. Villa manager Lambert has no new headaches ahead of his return to his old club, with Richard Dunne, Marc Albrighton, Gary Gardner and Chris Herd all long-term absentees.
- Norwich have won just one of their last nine Barclays Premier League meetings with Aston Villa, drawing five and losing three.
- Following his goal against Sunderland last week, Gabriel Agbonlahor is now the top scoring Aston Villa player in Premier League history (61).
- Christian Benteke has won more aerial duels than any other player in the top five European leagues (261).
Norwich 1-3 Aston Villa (First scorer; WOAHHHHHHH CHRISTIAN BENTEKE)
I was mocked in my previous article for saying Villa would win 3-1 against Sunderland. People doubted that Villa would get a draw let alone score three goals, so as I write this, sitting here all smug, I am going for the same scoreline again. The only thing that seems guaranteed on Saturday is that a clean sheet will remain nothing more than a pipe dream.