Three Things – Norwich City
In a slight change from the norm, I’ve decided that rather than do ‘Three Things to Beat Norwich’, I’d do a ‘Three Things’ to include more general stuff about Villa v Norwich. Mainly because I couldn’t think of three things in particular to beat them – just get it done Villa!!
1) Play our best team
Tuesday night’s team against Reading was probably as close to our best XI as it gets, with the possible exception of Neil Taylor (Alan Hutton is still working his way back from injury, so a good move by Brucie to rest him).
We need to rebuild our momentum as we reach the business end of the season and shouldn’t be messing around. Keep a winning team, try to put things to bed as soon as we can and then bring on others to see out the game, and in the case Kodjia (and maybe Hutton), build up their fitness levels some more with the play-offs in mind. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, or something like that.
2) Get ahead early
No, not the ridiculous kick-off time – thanks for that, Sky. Although that will mean a stupidly early start for most travelling Villans into the land devoid of motorways and convenient travel options.
Norwich are draw specialists – in the last 10 games, although they’ve only won one, and they’ve drawn six. When we get ahead in games, we don’t generally make a mess of things and we go on to win. Norwich are the very definition of mid-table mediocrity this season – safe from relegation yet with no chance of making the play-offs, so their players could be forgiven for turning early thoughts to this summer’s holiday plans – aka they’re on the beach.
That would suit us down to the ground, and if we can get ahead early doors, I can’t imagine Norwich posing too many problems or busting too much of a gut to get back into it. Quick out of the blocks please boys, and the three points will be back in Brum before anyone else has kicked off.
Our record against Norwich is good, especially recently. They have only won two (to Villa’s seven) of the last 10 against us, so we should head east full of confidence to keep the run going.
There are more than a few connections between Norwich and the Villa. Sir Ron Saunders is the most high-profile perhaps, having enjoyed his most successful years in management at Carrow Road and then later, of course, at the real Home of Football. Saunders’ Villa team famously beat Norwich in the Final of the 1975 League Cup, with Ray Graydon scoring the only goal to bring the trophy back to B6.
Other managerial crossovers include Martin O’Neill and, more recently, Paul Lambert, but we don’t like to talk about that, do we?
Moving swiftly on. Current Villa boss Steve Bruce was played for Norwich during the 80s, winning the League Cup during his time there. Tim Sherwood also played for the Canaries in the early 90s, while former Villa player Bruce Rioch went on to manage Norwich a couple of years after being replaced by Arsène Wenger at Arsenal.
Playing crossovers from back in the day include Andy Townsend, Dion Dublin, Chris Sutton, Peter Crouch, while more recently, Mark Bunn, Jed Steer and forgotten man Ritchie De Laet have represented both clubs.
Plenty of history, then, between two seemingly unrelated clubs. Let’s hope the next piece of history is a comfortable Villa win on Saturday, and the chance to look back in years to come on how the win at Carrow Road perhaps reignited Villa’s unlikely promotion as runner-up in 2017-18.