The FourFourTwo Preview: Norwich vs Aston Villa

Premier League | Carrow Road | Sat 21 Sep | 12.45pm

Billed as

The Paul Lambert derby, as Villa’s boss makes a second league return to Carrow Road. 

The lowdown

Norwich fans may well cast begrudgingly wistful glances in the direction of their former manager on Saturday.

NORWICH FORM

  • Tottenham 2-0 Norwich (Prem)
  • Norwich 1-0 Southampton (Prem)
  • Norwich 6-3 Bury (LC)
  • Hull 1-0 Norwich (Prem)
  • Norwich 2-2 Everton (Prem)

ASTON VILLA FORM

  • Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle (Prem)
  • Aston Villa 3-0 Rotherham (LC)
  • Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool (Prem)
  • Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa (Prem)
  • Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa (Prem)

The Canaries have made a disappointing start to the campaign after winning only one of their first four games, and were soundly beaten by Tottenham at White Hart Lane last weekend. 

It seems the jury is still out on Chris Hughton, despite a promising summer of transfer activity in Norfolk. Lambert left Carrow Road believing he couldn’t take the club any further. Hughton, it seems, is vindicating that decision.
 
Not that Lambert’s Villa side are pulling up any trees, though – in fact, they’re a point behind Norwich after a difficult start of their own. 
 
Last weekend’s home defeat to Newcastle served to prove just how much the Midlanders rely upon Christian Benteke, after the Belgian netted his fourth goal of the season. He’s Villa’s only real threat this season – and that has to change sooner rather than later. 

Team news

Norwich’s Bennetts, Ryan and Elliott, are both set to miss out with knee injuries once again. While the former should return sooner rather than later, his namesake and former Brighton winger won’t return until the New Year. 
 
Villa summer signing Jores Okore faces nine months on the sidelines with a cruciate knee ligament injury picked up against Newcastle last week. Charles N’Zogbia will miss out with an Achilles problem.

Player to watch: Robert Snodgrass (Norwich)

If Hughton isn’t going to bother playing Wes Hoolahan, then the Canaries’ creative hopes have to come from elsewhere - and in Snodgrass they have a genuine out-and-out winger capable of laying on goals for his team-mates, as well as scoring them.
 

Norwich’s last home game against Southampton saw the Scotland international received the ball purely in wide areas, while five of his 13 crosses found a yellow shirt.

As the team’s designated set-piece taker he’s an important go-to for Hughton, and could be key. That said, he'll have an interesting battle on his hands against Villa's rapidly improving right-back Matthew Lowton.
 

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

  • Norwich 1-2 Aston Villa (Prem, May 13)
  • Norwich 1-4 Aston Villa (LC, Dec 12)
  • Aston Villa 1-1 Norwich (Prem, Oct 12)
  • Norwich 2-0 Aston Villa (Prem, May 12)
  • Aston Villa 3-2 Norwich (Prem, Nov 11)

The managers

This one’s all about Lambert, and how he can go about transforming this young Villa team into a consistent Premier League force. 

The Scot has faced Hughton only twice in his managerial career, both last season, winning the corresponding fixture at Carrow Road thanks to Gabriel Agbonlahor’s brace. 
 
Hughton, meanwhile, is out to prove his high-profile summer arrivals can help Norwich avoid the relegation scrap they were embroiled in last time out. 

Facts and figures

  • Norwich City have won just one of the last 11 meetings in all competitions with Aston Villa (W1 D5 L5).
  • Christian Benteke scored in two of his three meetings in all competitions with Norwich last season.
  • Gabriel Agbonlahor has scored three goals in four Premier League appearances against Norwich, including a brace in his last appearance versus them in May.
  • Benteke has scored 18 Premier League goals this calendar year, more than any other player.
  • Aston Villa have gone 26 Premier League games without a clean sheet; a longer run than any other side currently in the division.
  • Villa have collected the most yellow cards (13) in the Premier League this season, but have also seen their opponents receive the most too (12).
  • Norwich have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League home games (W4 D6), however, that sole defeat was against Aston Villa in May.
  • These are the two sides to have recorded the lowest average possession in the Premier League this season (both 42%).
  • Aston Villa have won four of their last seven Premier League away games (L2 D1).
  • Villa are the only side to have conceded an own goal this season in the Premier League.
  • Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa have scored the same number of Premier League goals as his Norwich City side did (52) but have taken four more games to do so. 

FourFourTwo prediction

Both of these sides are improvements on last season but look equally poor for now. Don’t be surprised to see them cancel each other out – 1-1. 


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