Aston Villa will be looking to snap a five-game winless streak when they welcome basement boys Norwich City to Villa Park on Saturday.
Norwich City could become the first club to be relegated from the Premier League this season when they make the trip to Villa Park to face an out-of-sorts Aston Villa side on Saturday afternoon.
The Canaries have been the competition’s poorest team thus far, and it is no surprise that they are at the foot of the table. Norwich are in such a dire situation with only five games left in the season that they must aim for a 100 percent winning record from now on.
Norwich have only won five games all season, and it should be noted that they have surrendered the most number of goals in the division this term. Escaping the relegation zone now appears to be a virtually impossible task for Dean Smith’s men, who appeared to have downed tools in last week’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Newcastle United.
As far as Aston Villa are concerned, after a bright start to Steven Gerrard’s reign at Villa Park, their season is ending on a whimper. The Villans have failed to win in five and have not scored from open play in their last four. Gerrard’s side have also won just one of their last seven Premier League home games and have kept only one clean sheet in the Premier League on home soil since December.
However, Aston Villa might take solace in the fact that they have a comfortable eight-point cushion over the relegation zone and will be determined to further extend this gap. In that sense, they have a great chance to return to winning ways this weekend since they are pitted against a hospitable opponent in bottom-placed Norwich City and have the benefit of playing without any pressure.
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— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) April 29, 2022
Kortney Hause has missed the last six matchday squads owing to an abdominal problem. He seems to be out of contention again on Saturday. Bertrand Traore and Morgan Sanson were both unable to make the journey to Leicester last weekend, with the former requiring an MRI on his groin to evaluate the extent of his injury, whilst Sanson is thought to have a knock that only requires rest. Both will be unavailable for the Norwich clash.
Otherwise, Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has no fresh concerns following the draw with Leicester City and is expected to revert to his preferred 4-3-3 formation after utilising the 4-3-2-1 formation in the last game. Emiliano Martinez will continue to operate between the sticks for the upcoming home encounter.
There are unlikely to be any changes at the heart of the Aston Villa defence either, with Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings holding the fort as the two centre-backs flanked by the ever-reliable Matty Cash. And with Lucas Digne battling to return before the end of the season, experienced full-back Ashley Young would fill in for the time being.
Douglas Luiz and John McGinn will occupy the central midfield positions, with the former reprising a more defensive role to shield the home side’s back-four. Aston Villa academy graduate Jacob Ramsey, who has recently been rewarded with an improved contract after making a solid impression this term, will slot into the attacking midfield role and will be determined to get on the end of things with his late runs into the box.
Philippe Coutinho and Leon Bailey both had extremely quiet afternoons in the draw with Leicester last time out, and former Norwich starlet Emiliano Buendia could relegate the latter to the bench this weekend. Ollie Watkins will lead the line against Norwich this Saturday. Meanwhile, Danny Ings could also be a very potent weapon to come off the bench in the second half.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho
Unlike his counterpart in the Aston Villa dugout, Dean Smith has a number of pressing injury issues to contend with. Long-term absentees Adam Idah (knee), Andrew Omobamidele (back) and Ozan Kabak (hamstring) are all out for the rest of the season.
Kabak has had to return back to his parent club Schalke for treatment and has likely played his last game for Norwich City with his loan deal expiring this summer. Meanwhile, Lukas Rupp’s knee twitch will need assessment too.
💬 DS: “It is still mathematically possible, so we will still try. It (the Newcastle game) was a kick in the teeth but we have had plenty of this this season. We will take each games as it comes and try and win on Saturday.”#NCFC | #AVLNOR pic.twitter.com/0nzxnuMZdk
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) April 29, 2022
On a more positive note, the Canaries should be bolstered by the return of Josh Sargent to the matchday squad, although the 22-year-old may only feature off the bench after a month-long absence. But Christoph Zimmermann has been ruled out after injury in training.
Smith will set his team up in a similar formation to their opponents, with the Canaries lining up in a 4-3-3 shape in front of goalkeeper Tim Krul, who will be seeking redemption after a calamitous afternoon against Newcastle United last weekend.
Grant Hanley is a certain starter at the heart of the Norwich defence and could be partnered by Ben Gibson. Brandon Williams ought to start at left-back, while Max Aarons, who is back in contention after sitting out last weekend, returns at right-back in place of Sam Byram this weekend.
Up ahead in midfield, FC Rostov loanee Mathias Normann will hold the fort again in the middle of the park. He will have support from Kenny McLean and Pierre Lees-Melou on either side. Kieran Dowell, who has made a solid impression out wide for Norwich in recent games, should hold his place in the final third. Top scorer Teemu Pukki is the undisputed starter in the No. 9 role for the visitors, with support from Milot Rashica from the left.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams; McLean, Normann, Lees-Melou; Dowell, Pukki, Rashica
- Norwich have failed to win 26 of their last 28 away Premier League matches.
- Seven of Aston Villa’s past eight Premier League encounters against Norwich City have ended in victories. The only exception was a 2-0 defeat at Carrow Road in December 2015.
- Aston Villa have won 5 of their last 6 home matches against Norwich in all competitions.
- Norwich have conceded at least 2 goals in 8 of their last 10 Premier League matches.
- Aston Villa are without a win in their last five Premier League matches (D4 L1), and the fact that the hosts have only managed to score two goals during that stretch is even more alarming for Gerrard.
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Coutinho has endured a rough seven weeks or so since netting in back-to-back wins against Southampton and Leeds United after sparkling into the spotlight following his January loan move from Barcelona. Since those strikes, the Brazilian has not created or scored, and he has not churned a single big chance from open play in any of his last six games.
Aston Villa are currently struggling for goals, having scored just two in their past five games. But they are up against a porous Norwich backline that has shipped six goals in their last two. Coutinho has the prime opportunity to restore his form by scoring here, and a strong end to the season should only push his cause in the summer shop window.
Aston Villa 2-1 Norwich City
It is now or never for Norwich this weekend, and one can expect them to put up a solid fight against an Aston Villa team that has found consistency hard to come by in recent weeks. The Villans are in dismal form, but Norwich City have a terrible record on the road this season. So far this season, the Canaries have only picked up nine points in 16 away games.
They have only won one of their past ten Premier League games. So, while the hosts should get the job done and maybe send the visitors back to the Championship, given their recent troubles at both ends of the pitch, it is difficult to back the Villains to post a convincing win here against a spirited Canaries side.