Welcome to the last Don't look back in anger of 2015. Fun fact, Aston Villa haven't won since I've started writing this series*. I might be cursed. Oh dear. Ahem, moving quickly on, next up for Villa is a clash with Norwich City.
*If Villa beat Newcastle or West Ham, please ignore!
So I'm still on holidays, and this was also written prior to the Newcastle and West Ham games. Who knows, things might be looking up by now. Either that or we're properly doomed. I know which one I'd rather.
The last time we met
It's been a couple of years since we last faced Norwich, because they were relegated from the Premier League back in 2014. That same season, Villa also flirted with the drop, so the March 2nd encounter was something of a relegation six pointer.
During the January transfer window prior to this game, then Villa manager Paul Lambert seemed obsessed with signing Norwich playmaker Wes Hoolahan, so it was a double blow when he gave Norwich the lead just three minutes into the game. Villa fans' fears of relegation grew following the goal, but those were eased as a brace from Christian Benteke, a rare Leandro Bacuna goal and an own goal turned things around as Villa won 4-1.
Obviously, Villa can't rely on Benteke this time around (or Leandro Bacuna in all likelihood), but the manner in which Villa turned things around gives me a little hope. Four goals in 15 minutes turned Aston Villa's season around two years ago, so why can't it happen again? Obviously, circumstances are a bit different, but who knows how much impact a morale boosting win could do.
Norwich this season
For me personally, the most exciting thing about Norwich City this season are their jazzy kits:
No but seriously, those kits are awful.
At the time of writing, Norwich are sitting in 18th place, joining Villa in the party that is the relegation zone. So it goes without saying that this is a must win for both sides, but Villa in particular. It seems like we have a reasonable chance too, because Norwich have won just once since September, against another struggling side in Swansea. So it's a clash of two fairly awful sides, so something's got to give (I'm not playing the songs again, don't worry!).
Norwich's second top scorer this season is right back Russell Martin, which suggests that goal scoring is a bit of a problem for them. Sounds familiar right?! I imagine that this will be a low scoring game, which may be of benefit to Villa's shaky defence, especially if they can pick up a clean sheet. And if they do badly, at least we've got Ali Cissokho back before the next game.
So it's been a pretty mixed year for Villa, but a win here could set the tone for 2016. I dread to think what a loss might do. Happy new year folks.