Norwich City have just had to endure probably our biggest bogie team at Carrow Road in Fulham and now we have to endure arguably our second biggest bogie team in Aston Villa. Whilst City have ebbed and flowed this season with a few unbeaten runs mixed with a run of games not looking like we will never win again.
Villa have looked like a massive old steam train parked up at Sheringham Station hissing and blowing. Waiting for the whistle to head off to Holt. This season, they have slowly chugged their way up the league and appear to have a full head of steam at the business end of the season under old boy and chief driver and fireman, Steve Bruce. They are now at full steam and I wouldn't bet again them finishing the job off in the play-offs.
The Villans are blessed with an ideal time to turn up in Norfolk. Firstly Norwich City have lost the 'fortress Carrow Road' label this season having won only six games at home in 20 attempts. The Easter holiday weather in East Anglia has been a damp squib, as have the footy performances with a home 2-0 reverse to promotion chasing Fulham followed by a 4-1 shambolic showing at Lofus Road against the 'super hoops'. Form over the last 10 games has produced only one win which was against a very, very poor Reading outfit. Even Sunderland managed to beat Reading!
Also on the City of Yellows Blog:
- Have the wheels come off?
I now have serious concerns. Not that we just don't look anything like a team capable of attacking the play-offs next season, worse than that, Norwich City have every chance of finishing lower than our neighbours down the road.
- A Yellow Army 5,045 miles away
I do love absorbing the differing football cultures when travelling on holiday and most of them have been witnessed in Eastern Europe. A chance not be be missed occurred for me in February with a trip to energise the all my senses in every footballing way possible, Kerala in southern India.
- The peculiar pleasures of mid-table mediocrity
13th...... 11th...... 9th...... 13th. No, this is not an article about our friends down the A140 (more on them later). These are the finishing places of Norwich City in Division Two (aka The Championship) during the second half of the 1960s.
The Canaries also have further challenges against promotion chasers with games against Cardiff and Preston coming up but don't expect any favours Villa fans as City have lost the stomach for the battle in my humble opinion. If the Yellows can organise some form of organisation, that appears to be the only offer of help and maybe picking up the odd draw.
With the heavy German influence of the back room staff, the continental style approach is to roll the ball from the back, knock it sideways, beat the opposition on possession stats, try and hold onto a clean sheet as long as possible and maybe sneak a goal. Don't expect any thrills unless the Villa boys can move and pass quickly and attack in droves. In 20 home games, 20 goals have been scored and 21 conceded by the Canaries.
In the form table City sit a lowly 17th for home performances whilst Villa are positioned in a healthy 5th for their away form.
In general, I've never enjoyed the prospect of playing Villa and the overall stats back up my feelings. Since our first encounter in 1936, Norwich have won 19, drawn 16 and 32 games have ended in defeat. City have only won three in the last 13 attempts, losing nine of them.
My experiences of Villa/City encounters go back to me being a young teenager and watching Norwich lose 1-0 to Villa at Wembley in the League Cup final with Ray Graydon doing the damage from the spot in April 1975. It made matters worse having seen City lose to Spurs two seasons earlier in the same final. I also remember the 'payback' game in the August with a brilliant 5-3 winning encounter. More recently in February 2016, Norwich played probably the worst top flight Villa side in its long, famous history only to typically lose 2-0 at Villa Park and therefore help both teams to be condemned to the Championship.
After a lousy start, Villa have moved forward under the guidance of Steve Bruce. Whilst I can never forgive him leaving City to move to a 'bigger club' in Man Utd, he will always be remembered for his game winning thunder header in the League Cup semi final, second leg against neighbours Ipswich - what dreams are made of.
Of course, my heart will always believe we can win, my head says a Villa victory by two goals.