Aston Villa v Norwich 2016
After a decent start to the game at Upton Park on Tuesday, a moment of madness effectively cost us the game. There’s no time for Villa to feel sorry for themselves however, and Saturday really is a must-win game (hasn’t every match been?!). Norwich meanwhile head to Villa Park with an away form that, miraculously, makes our home form look acceptable. Can Villa avenge the 2-0 defeat at Carrow Road?
Norwich are the only Premier League side yet to keep an away clean sheet
Garde on Norwich
“Norwich is a tremendously important game. It’s a big match. I hope we will remember the game we had there. It was a tough match there. It will be the time for us to win.
“We have no choice now. We would have liked something at West Ham before the Norwich game. But unfortunately, that’s football.
“The spirit the players showed at Upton Park was brilliant – it was the same we showed in the previous games. We will have to keep that.
“I was very proud of the way they reacted to all the stuff against us. The players did what they could.”
Garde on Apologetic Ayew
“Straight after the red card, I was really disappointed. This was the first feeling I had – and I was upset as well because this is something where you know straightaway you will be in big trouble and the game will change.
“But I must say that since then, Jordan has behaved the way he had to. He made some apologies publicly and in front of the group too.
“The morning after, he went to my office and apologised personally to me and then we had a chat. He has done what he had to do after his actions.
“What I would say is what he did in the previous games since the start of the season has been very good. He is one of the most committed players in every game. He is one of the biggest runners in the team every time. He’s in the top three every match.
“I can’t say this is not a player who is committed to the Villa challenge we have.”
Alex Neil on Villa
“They’ve found it tough. They’ve let a lot of goals in, but of late they have got better.
“They’re now playing where they’ve got no fear. They’ve got nothing to lose now, they can throw caution to the wind. Basically they’ve got to win games, that’s all that will do for them now.
“We find ourselves in a situation though where we’ve got to win this game, so it should mean for an interesting match.”
“You’ve got to show a bit of character and try even harder to do what’s required to win these crucial matches.
“We’ll be fully prepared and ready to go and do the job.”
02 Mar 2014 Aston Villa 4 Norwich 1
Despite an early goal (and strangely muted celebration) from one-time Villa target Wes Hoolahan, Villa rallied to victory thanks to a Benteke brace.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 2, L 2
Norwich – Last five matches away: W 1, L 4
Villa have won two out of the last three home games vs Norwich in recent seasons.
One to Watch
Steven Naismith – The ex-Everton forward scored on his debut for Norwich and might have been an option for Villa, had they decided to splash the cash.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
In a turbulent period for Villa in which our records worsen by the week, matches against Norwich have actually ended quite well.
Any other team would be looking at Norwich’s poor away record and hoping to capitalise, but we don’t do things that way at Villa Park.
Our last win in the league at Villa Park was of course against Crystal Palace, and despite a spirited performance, the goal was something of a gift.
That match was the only win out of 12 league games at VP, during which we’ve scored just eight goals. That’s a bit of a worry considering the injuries our strikers have.
Agbonlahor’s fit and will be trying to help Villa prevent Norwich from doing a Premier League double over Villa for the first time since the 92/93 season.
Considering we’ve won just 18 home league games since December 2011, Garde’s rallying cry that it’s time to win looks a little optimistic.
“They’re now playing where they’ve got no fear. They’ve got nothing to lose now, they can throw caution to the wind” – neil on villa
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
Alex Neil is right. Villa have nothing to lose.
When Villa went down to 10 men on Tuesday, you couldn’t blame them for airing on the defensive side, but what good will a point do now?
We might as well go all out against Norwich. We’ve tended to enjoy more possession in games but perhaps a more gung-ho approach is necessary.
A bright start to the game would at least give Villa’s long-suffering fans something to smile about. Villa haven’t scored a first-half league goal since the start of December!
We might not boast the attacking spark we had when Benteke scored a spectacular bicycle kick against Norwich a couple of years ago, but a win against a struggling Norwich side can’t be too much to ask.
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Get ready to smile, Villa fans! This is where the stats look quite good.
While we’re almost certainly tempting fate, Norwich have lost their last four league games and won just one of their last 11 away league games.
Historically we have enjoyed dominance over the Canaries at Villa Park and Saturday’s visitors have won only two out of 21 top-flight matches at Villa Park – the last time they won there was in 1992.
Norwich have won only two of their 21 top-flight matches at Villa Park, and none in six attempts since a 3-2 triumph in November 1992.
Norwich’s recent 5-4 loss against Liverpool demonstrated their problems and it’s rare that a team scores four goals and loses.
They’ve allowed 29 shots on target against them in 2016 alone (more than any other team) and have conceded 46 league goals this season, with only Sunderland worse in that department.
Add to that the fact that Norwich are the only Premier League side yet to keep an away clean sheet and the odds look mysteriously stacked in our favour.
Overly optimistic? Possibly, but while avoiding relegation is mathematically possible, we might as well be!
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