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
    badger123 October 23, 2018 at 9:32 pm .

    5 mins ET.

  2. Avatar
    AndyB October 23, 2018 at 9:34 pm .

    just sick of looking at Hutton in a Villa shirt

    1. Avatar
      badger123 October 23, 2018 at 9:38 pm .


      He looks like one of the only ones with any bollocks in him, to me.

      1. Avatar
        AndyB October 23, 2018 at 9:43 pm .

        he had no bollocks when he let Rhodes go and failed to jump for their first goal and his bollocks were swinging on the floor when he got taken out by the cross for the 2nd!

  3. Avatar
    Adam October 23, 2018 at 9:38 pm .

    Were just not a team yet. Were still just a bunch of individuals. Smith has to sort that. January will help. Maybe involving some of the u23s i dont know but theres a disconnect on the pitch.

  4. Avatar
    badger123 October 23, 2018 at 9:39 pm .

    Jack will mess this up.

  5. Avatar
    badger123 October 23, 2018 at 9:40 pm .

    Straight into the wall.

  6. Avatar
    Sidforever October 23, 2018 at 9:40 pm .

    With each match Smith will be learning more about his squad.

    We were unlucky to lose both Abrahams and Adomah. This stopped our out ball to Abrahams and Hogan coming on was a mistake – Kodjia can when push come to shove hold a ball up.

    The loss of Adomah stopped our attack’s down the flank and reduced the cover for Taylor.

    I thought Hourihane was awful. Lacked a first touch, sloppy passing and caught In possession.

    El Gazi really needs to toughen up.

    Tuanzebe has a good game showing why he should always start at centre half.

    Finally, I liked the high pressing game. When the squad can consistently apply Smith’s tactics we will be much better.

  7. Avatar
    Hitchens60 October 23, 2018 at 9:42 pm .

    Stopped watching after they took the lead as it was clear we had no idea what to do. Off to the Caribbean tomorrow which means I won’t be able to watch them for weeks for which I’m grateful.

    Smith may be the future but frankly I don’t see us mounting any sort of challenge this season. By the way Blues 9th and laughing at us!

  8. Avatar
    badger123 October 23, 2018 at 9:42 pm .

    Fuck me, the comentator is playing the typical sky game in winding things up.
    Whatever, it’s all over.
    1-2 and I’m pissed off with that.

    I’ve no doubt Smith will be fuming.

  9. Avatar
    Holte66 October 23, 2018 at 9:58 pm .

    I envy you Hitch, not so much the going to the Caribbean but avoiding Villa and the disappointment they always bring. Only 2 players stood out for me and they were Tuanzebe and Grealish. I know Chester scored but he was woeful in defence and Tuanzebe saved him on more than one occasion. Taylor is an embarrassment and the keeper flapping for the first goal. Losing Adomah and Abraham at the same time changed the game. El Ghazi and Hogan looked stale, and I was surprised Kodja didn’t get on before them. Smith has a lot to do with the shambles he has inherited. At least McGinn will be eligible for Friday. Another defeat against QPR and we will be having a relegation battle rather than a promotion push.

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 October 24, 2018 at 6:55 am .

      Even having calmed down this morning, I don’t see us achieving much with the players we have – I’ve never bought into the notion of the quality of the squad as promoted by some. Bruce has left us with a group of players, some very good, some decent and …….. but the squad is terribly unbalanced and Smith is going to be faced with a rebuild …… again! So, no promotion challenge for me this season.

      On El Ghazi – not only ‘stale’ but lightweight and much too easily knocked off the ball – showy with no substance and Hourihane needs to stop continually appealing to the referee whilst stopping playing.

  10. Avatar
    Originallondonlion October 23, 2018 at 10:04 pm .

    Didn’t watch the game but the thread here reads like the usual Villa away performance at night, served up by very much the usual suspects.

    It would be useful to know whether Smith thinks he can improve the performances of the players he has, or needs to change them.

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