Aston Villa vs. Norwich City, open match thread

Jamie McDonald

Aston Villa have a massive opportunity to avoid being dragged into the relegation mess, which of course means that a loss would bring them right into the middle of the relegation mess. Let's hyperventilate together!

Aston Villa's remaining schedule is, on paper, pretty soft. Unfortunately, every side in the bottom half is pretty bad and that pretty clearly includes Villa; there's not much compelling reason to think any team below 10th couldn't be beaten by 20th-placed Fulham on any given day, and it's been some time since table placement was less indicative of actual quality.

All of the above is a roundabout way of saying that, while this is a huge opportunity for Villa to make a significant move away from the relegation zone, without homefield advantage-and in fact with the evidence pointing to there being a homefield disadvantage-there isn't going to be a game about which we're going to feel confident the rest of the way. Obviously, that could change pretty much on a dime, but I doubt any of us are expecting it. So games like this one are really, really important, because while I think Villa fans are largely resigned to supporting for a pretty mediocre, uninspiring team, I'm not sure many of us can deal with another relegation battle.

Aston Villa Starting XI

Brad Guzan; Nathan Baker, Ron Vlaar, Leandro Bacuna, Ryan Bertrand; Karim El Ahmadi, Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph; Andi Weimann, Gabby Agbonlahor, Christian Benteke

Aston Villa Subs

Jed Steer, Joe Bennett, Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton, Yacouba Sylla, Grant Holt, Callum Robinson

Norwich City Starting XI

John Ruddy; Russell Martin, Sebastien Bassong, Martin Olsson, Joseph Yobo; Bradley Johnson, Robert Snodgrass, Nathan Redmond, Alexander Tettey; Gary Hooper, Wes Hoolahan

Norwich City Subs

Mark Bunn, Steven Whittaker, Jonathan Howson, Anthony Pilkington, Johan Elmander, Luciano Becchio, Ryan Bennett

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