Norwich – Villa; A tough one.

The good and bad news is I’m back home.
The bad of course, was walking into 8C at 3AM in the morning.
On the other hand, it does mean that I’ll be able to watch the game tonight.

And it’s not an ideal one, with us facing a Norwich side that has only lost one in ten games, so soon after Saturday’s game.
The good news is that their solitary defeat was at home, against Stoke, just before the international break.
Hence they’re certainly not unbeatable, even on their own turf.

The bad news for us, is that Jon McGinn is suspended after incurring 5 yellow cards.
I think he’s a fabulous player, who we’re bound to miss in the middle, but we do have Conor Hourihane who can do equally well on his day and I’d expect him to come in as the replacement.

Talking of personnel changes, with the games coming so thick and fast this week, I think I’d be expecting Dean Smith to change things up anyway, purely to give some of the players a breather.
Even I’m not so old-fashioned that I’d expect players to be able to play three games in a week.
Also Smith can get a look at some more of the squad in an actual game.

As per usual, we don’t have many options at the back, but in the middle, the manager might want to have a look at El Ghazi and perhaps a better look at Bolasie. We definitely have good options for width.
I’d expect Grealish and Abraham to be certs, but you never know.
I just wonder if Smith might be looking at the QPR game on Friday, as a more likely chance of a win?
Maybe not, as he goes out to win every game, doesn’t he?

Still, while I’m sure he’ll go for it, you’d also expect that he has to be pragmatic too and it’ll be interesting to see if Bjarnason is retained, along with either Whelan or Jedinak, just to help cover the defence.
Again, maybe not as for me playing 2 holding midfielders means you lose something in the attack and I’m sure this is where Smith will be concentrating.

I’d be looking at a 4-1-3-1-1, myself, or something not too dissimilar.
You could put Abraham up top and allow Jack to play a free role. Bjarnason anchors the midfield, with Hourihane further forward to assist with the press. And then it’s any two wingers.

But what do I know?
I’m only putting that out there as I hardly ever predict tactics, because I’m not a football manager.
It doesn’t matter what I think anyway, as I’m sure Dean Smith will know exactly what he plans to do.

One thing we can be sure of, is that if whatever the plan is, isn’t working, Smith will change things up.
He also won’t look to hold on to any 1-0 lead we might take either.
And that will be refreshing.

To be honest, I think this game might be a bit of a stretch for us, but I think I’d happily take a draw at this stage.
If we were to get the win, I’d be ecstatic and would seriously be thinking that we’re on our way already.

The realist in me though, is going for a 1-1 draw.

The game is available live on Sky or via AVTV for international plus subscribers.
Bring it on!


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  1. Avatar
    Holte66 October 23, 2018 at 10:21 pm .

    We have to accept that the opposition will see Aston Villa as a team they will step up their performance levels for to try and turn us over. Trouble is we don’t match the opposition for energy levels needed to let the quality shine. We don’t move the ball quickly enough, and therefore struggle to create chances. Most of our goals are from set pieces. Smith needs to start kicking players arses. They get paid a fortune and think they just need to turn up to win a game. Look at Small Heath, with a transfer embargo but players playing for each other and with the right attitude. Personally I think we have very little chance of going up, so we might as well promote some of the U23s because they can’t do any worse.

  2. Avatar
    Hitchens60 October 24, 2018 at 3:28 pm .

    Having watched a few games this season, the one notable consistency is that Grealish is not impacting on games like last. It seems to my untrained eye that we have been worked out – stop Grealish and we are an impotent force. I noticed on several occasions when JG had the ball on the edge of the penalty area, he was faced with a line of three or four defenders fairly close together who shepherded him sideways; a tactic that has been employed in a number of games.

    Smith has to find a way of freeing Grealish to make those damaging runs into the penalty area that were a feature of his game last season or, like Middlesbrough (Traore) and Norwich (Maddison) perhaps we should sell him and create a more team based attacking midfield.

    Or maybe I have it completely wrong and he is just off form?

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