After Cardiff City missed two injury time penalties against Wolves to leave the automatic promotion slightly ajar, Villa were expected to take advantage of an indifferent Norwich team whose focus was on next season. Fulham had recently come away from Carrow Road with a 2-0 win, so if Villa were going to be legit contenders for the final automatic spot in the final run-in, it was must-win time.

Cue a flat, low tempo and predictable performance that had the travelling Villans wondering why they had got up at 6am on a Saturday to make the early kick-off.

Steve Bruce now must focus on the play-offs, as question marks start to appear about his future at the club next season, as it’s the second season he’s seen the team wilt in the run-in.

Apologies for not doing player ratings for the Reading and Hull games. For Bolton, i just wasn’t in the mood, and for Reading, I had another engagement, so missed the game.

Villa Player Ratings vs Norwich Away

Sam Johnstone – 6

After a couple of clean sheets in the past week, he wasn’t the problem against Norwich, as his teammates left him exposed. If anything, Johnstone kept the score down in the end, as Villa chased the game with little midfield presence.

Ahmed Elmohamady – 5

Further evidence that Elmohamady plays within himself at times and hasn’t been the force going forward on the right, that he should have been. His positioning defensively was questionable at times, especially when getting skinned for Norwich’s second. Led the team for clearances and touches, but I’d be surprised if he’s in the Egyptian first team come the World Cup.

John Terry – 5

After recovering from a knock, when it looked like Jedinak was going to replace him at centre-back (the sight of the Aussie worked better than the magic sponge!), Terry had perhaps his worst game in a Villa shirt.

He was made to look foolish when he got caught out trying to catch Norwich offside, which directly led to Norwich’s second. Then he was out-muscled in the build-up for Norwich’s third.

Struggled against the pace of Norwich at times, and if Villa made it back to the Premier League, this wouldn’t be considered a good audition to retain his services.

James Chester – 5

While ok for most of the match, he came up short in two key moments. When he was caught flat-footed and his resulting header went out wide and eventually led to Josh Murphy’s wonder strike. He was also was bypassed easily when Norwich added a third.

Neil Taylor – 4

I think Villa simply bought Taylor because he was left footed. Apart from that he is bang average. He should have got tighter to Murphy, before the Norwich player pulled the trigger for the opening goal. Was caught ball watching, when Wes Hoolahan came in behind him to blaze over, later on in the game. Has no cutting edge when he goes forward and rarely gets behind the opposition.

Birkir Bjarnason – 6

Tried to drive the team forward when picking up the ball from deep. Made a great early decisive pass that cut open the Norwich defence and led to a chance for Hogan, but afterwards he sometimes played a little too sideways when a more forward option was on. Still, one of Villa’s better performers on the day.

Robert Snodgrass – 4

Bad day at the office for Snodgrass against a former club of his. A step behind Norwich’s midfield and didn’t do much to create chances for Villa. Subbed.

Jack Grealish – 7 MOTM

Grealish hasn’t really had a bad game since he return from injury. Again Grealish tried to inspire Villa going forward, although his teammates offered him limited options with their often predictable movement. A welcome goal from outside of the box will hopefully trigger him scoring one or two more before the season ends.

Conor Hourihane – 4

This was another example of Hourihane turning into a ghost in midfield. Some fans who cling to stats and don’t watch the full games, will point to him being the first Villa midfielder to get into double figures for goals since David Platt. Other fans though, will be putting up missing posters of the player.

Albert Adomah – 5

Hasn’t scored in six games. Should we be worried? A little predictable in recent weeks, which makes you think if the opposition have worked out how to counter him drifting in from the flank.

Scot Hogan – 4.5

Remember when Norwich came to Villa Park and Keinan Davis totally bossed their defence and essentially set up the Villa win? Recently, MOMS has suggested Davis could be a better option for some away games than Hogan. The ball sticks to him better, he holds it up and brings in Villa’s midfield.

Norwich’s defence have also tended to struggle against bigger forwards that have bullied them, their recent 4-1 defeat against QPR being the latest example.

Obviously, the politics of wages comes into play, and unfortunately Davis is unlikely to get a look-in ahead of Hogan, Grabban or Kodjia.

In comparison, Hogan was back to his standard touch rate – just 13 touches against Norwich (to add to his one touch in his ten minutes as a sub away to Hull).

Being on the fringes of the action is not going to help the team on their travels. Although, if he had tucked away an early chance, that the keeper did well to close him down, it could have masked over his actual lack of involvement.

Obviously, the politics of wages comes into play, and unfortunately Davis is unlikely to get a look-in ahead of Hogan, Grabban or Kodjia.



Off the Bench

Jonathan Kodjia (55) – 6

Endeavoured to get things going and set up Grealish’s consolation, but was out wide most of the time, after Bruce had taken off both the starting wide men.

Lewis Grabban (55) – 5

It seemed a bit random to where he was playing and he would have perhaps done better playing him down the middle and given their centre backs something to worry about.

Team Performance – 4

Does this team want promotion or not? The past month’s efforts suggests not…

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