Paul Lambert will hope his Aston Villa side can turn their fortunes around when they travel to his old club Norwich City on Saturday. Villa have lost their last three Premier League games after getting off to a perfect start with a 3-1 opening-day victory at Arsenal. Defeats at Chelsea and at home to Liverpool were followed up with a 2-1 reverse against Newcastle United at Villa Park, meaning a more positive result is needed at Carrow Road.
Lambert – who managed Norwich for three years before leaving for Villa last June – can take heart from his team’s recent record at his old stomping ground though, as they won there twice last season in the Premier League and League Cup. New signing Libor Kozak is in line to make his full debut for the visitors, and should be full of confidence after netting for the Czech Republic against Italy in the recent international break. Kozak could partner last season’s top scorer Christian Benteke up front, and the Belgian has picked up where he left off this term, scoring four goals in as many Premier League games.
However, Lambert will need to reorganise his midfield for the encounter though, with Jores Okore ruled out for up to nine months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the defeat to Newcastle. There are no new injury worries for Norwich manager Chris Hughton though, with only long-term absentee Elliot Bennett (knee) unavailable.
Hughton’s men have also made a sluggish start to the season, winning just one of their four games. They have picked up four points from their two home games though, but Hughton is expecting a tough game against Villa – the only team to beat them at Carrow Road in their last 11 competitive home fixtures.
“We will be tested because they are a young and exciting side. They have good offensive options and are going to play a certain way which makes it difficult for you,” the former Newcastle boss said.
Hughton will be hoping Johan Elmander can get off the mark having failed to find the net in his first three games for Norwich after joining on a season-long loan from Galatasaray. The Sweden international is likely to partner fellow newcomer Ricky van Wolfswinkel up front, with the Dutchman also looking to get back among the goals after a three-game barren spell since scoring against Everton on the first day of the season.
Norwich are coming in to Saturday’s early match undefeated in 10 of their last 11 home matches in Premier League competition against an Aston Villa team that has not won any of their last three games.
Of the two teams Villa has scored more goals (5-3) and the goals allowed is rather even with Aston Villa allowing 6 and Norwich giving up 5. Norwich are currently 14th in the table with four points while Villa are 17th with three points. They both have one win apiece while Villa have three losses compared to Norwich’s one draw and two losses.
All in all it looks like this could be a match with interesting, unpredictable results. My prediction for a result is a draw. This is one that could swing either way with neither team really showing much defensive fortitude to start this season. The one thing going for Norwich is that their one win came against an opponent similar to Aston Villa in their 1-0 home win over Southampton.