Tomorrow night, Aston Villa face bottom of the league Norwich City at Carrow Road.
It will be the first time the two sides meet each other since Boxing Day 2019 when Conor Hourihane scored the winner for Villa as Dean Smith’s side saw Daniel Farke’s off and got three vital three points in their bid for survival that season.
Since that game, an awful lot has changed for both clubs.
Aston Villa now have who was Norwich’s best player back then in Emi Buendia. So far, the Argentinian hasn’t really hit the ground running. He has only created three goals in fourteen games which is disappointing considering he is the club’s record signing, however, he seems to suit Steven Gerrard’s system much more than Dean Smith’s, so hopefully he can shine under the relatively new gaffer. Oh yeah, and speaking of Dean Smith, he now manages Norwich!
Smith spent three years at his boyhood club in Aston Villa, and in those three years, he was involved in two Premier League games against Norwich, winning both, one by five goals to one at Carrow Road, and the other, one goal to nil at Villa Park, where Hourihane bagged the winner.
Despite Deano’s best interests to return the club he grew up loving back into a European spot, he couldn’t make it, and was sacked just over a month ago due to a lack of good results.
Smith took over in October 2018 when the club were mid table in the Championship. The record breaking ten game winning streak saw Villa fly into the Playoff places where they earned promotion to the Premier League. A dream come true for the Villa man. He then spent two full seasons at the club, and managed to keep Villa up, and guided them to an 11th place finish. However, Jack Grealish left in the summer, and from then on, it went downhill. Deano struggled to find a system that suited the players he had, and eventually, after five consecutive losses, he was sacked.
He is now at Norwich and has done a decent job there so far, however they are still bottom. His main aim for the season will be to keep the East Anglian club up in the Premier League, however his main aim for this game will be to get three points against his former club.
Villa are the favourites coming into this one, however with the recent news that two first team players have tested positive for coronavirus and midfielder Marvelous Nakamba is out with a knee injury, things aren’t looking too well.
Steven Gerrard has said that, “It’s obviously not what we wanted, but we’ll have to deal with the situation and adapt. From a playing point of view, there will be opportunities for other people to come in and help us.”
Wise words from the gaffer!
So, like Gerrard said, it isn’t ideal, but the team will have to get used to the fact that they will be without some players, and opportunities for other people will open up.
None of the two players with coronavirus have been revealed. There will be a chance to find out when the lineups are announced tomorrow evening, or when the coach arrives at Carrow Road, and no one sees a certain player getting off, but right now, we don’t know who will play.
It will be an interesting one. It may very well be an emotional one too – Deano faces his boyhood and former club, Buendia returns to Carrow Road etcetera. But Villa fans will be going into this one wanting nothing more than a win. Anything other than a win is a poor result to them. As for Norwich, Dean Smith will want to get one over his former club and show them that they made a mistake by sacking him, but ultimately, they want a win to go level on points with Watford in 17th place.
By Harry Batters