top of page

MATCH REPORT: No revenge for Smith as Villa brush aside Norwich

by Darcy Cosgriff

Action Images

Steven Gerrard’s impressive start as Aston Villa manager continued at Carrow Road, with goals from Jacob Ramsey and Ollie Watkins further consigning Norwich to the bottom of the table.

It was a comfortable victory for the Villans, who never really had to get out of second gear against a Canaries side who, whilst valiant, still lack the core talent and depth of a consistent Premier League team.

John McGinn set the tone early with a thunderous strike from distance, forcing a sharp shave from Tim Krul. This was in keeping with a dominant first half from Villa, with Norwich simply unable to keep up with the visitor’s quick interplay – Buendia, Luiz, Ramsey and Cash were in a world of their own at times with their pass and move plays, and the latter ran Norwich left back Brandon Williams ragged by way of his persistent adventures up and down the right touchline.

Despite enjoying the lion’s share of attacking play, it took a special moment from Jacob Ramsey to finally break the deadlock. After playing a 1-2 with Watkins that began in Villa’s half, he burst through the Norwich midfield and carried the ball all the way into the area, before shifting onto his left foot and slamming the ball past Krul. A special goal from a player with the potential to be very special himself.

The second half saw Norwich hold the majority of possession and territory, but consistently their attacks were comfortably put behind by the Villa defence or easily dealt with by Martinez. Even when Villa took their foot of the gas, the introduction of Danny Ings’ allowed them to pose a threat anytime the ball went over the halfway line, something the Canaries could not match.

The visitors sealed the game in the 87th minute, after Carney Chukwuemeka pushed goalside of Billy Gilmour and slipped a beautifully timed ball (on his weaker foot) in front of Watkins to apply the finishing touch. It was an emphatic way to mark an impressive performance from Gerrard’s side and highlight the gulf in class between the two teams.

Villa’s Youth Shines

Since the beginning of this season, Jacob Ramsey has gone from the occasional cameo to nailed on starter, and it is easy to see why. His goal was created and taken immaculately, and he is developing a habit of running Villa’s attacks in a similar manner to a certain Manchester City winger who shall remain unnamed. Chukwuemeka is also providing more and more impact with every sub appearance, and his first Premier League assist will surely have Steven Gerrard thinking about starting him through the busy Christmas period. One presumes it would have been remarkably bittersweet for Dean Smith to watch his new side torn apart by the youngsters he blooded into Aston Villa’s first team, but that is the cruel nature of the sport.


Norwich In Real Strife

Two wins and two draws from Smith’s first four games in charge may have had Norwich fans dreaming of an unlikely turnaround, but their current three match losing streak will have brought them firmly back to reality. Whilst the scoreline may seem respectable, in reality Villa may have won by 4 or 5 with some luck and better decision making. In addition, Norwich could have attacked that goal for 300 minutes and not scored – to have 50% possession and 7 corners, but only create three weak, looping headers is simply relegation material. Admittedly they are missing a few players (including the immortal Pearce Hanley at centre back), but this is more of a problem than an excuse; the idea of being a financially sound, “top 26” football club with a bare bones squad will leave them in a permanent yo-yo status. If they are ever to escape the limbo between high-end Championship and low-end Premier League quality, then serious reinforcements are needed in January.

Gaffers’ Verdicts

Steven Gerrard (speaking to BBC):

"It's a big win, an important win. The first half was outstanding. We challenged the players - can we come here, keep a clean sheet and win? They did that. It comes off a very challenging week.

"The application they gave at Anfield - I have no complaints. The players maxed out there. We’ve had a couple of Covid cases among the players and staff.

"It’s a bright start, but it’s my job to keep pushing the standards. We’ll get ready for a really tough challenge against Burnley. We need to be ready."

On Jacob Ramsey: "He scored a fantastic goal. I thought his all-round performance was outstanding. He has a bright future for sure."

On new Covid regulations: "I made a personal decision on Sunday just to call training. It’s tough for every manager. We have to make sure we’re very diligent with the guidelines. Nobody wants to see the situation deteriorate. We all have to follow the instructions."


Dean Smith (speaking to BBC): "The first half was miles off where we want to be. We can’t allow a player to run from the halfway line without laying a glove on him.

"It looked like we were playing low-risk football, which is not what we asked. We’re missing around eight players that could play in the first team at the moment.

"The last few games have been frustrating because of our finishing. Tonight it was frustrating because of our first-half performance. You’re not going to win anything playing like that.

"It’s a mountain we believe we can climb. We’ve got good players in the squad, we know that. Unfortunately it wasn’t good enough tonight."

What's Next?

Aston Villa head back home to face Burnley, in a Saturday afternoon clash that could see Gerrard's men cement themselves in the top half. Norwich face another stern test in the form of a formidable trip to London to take on West Ham.

66 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page