Well this was certainly an unexpected way for the match to go. Back on Thursday night on the Holtecast, I predicted a boring 1-1 affair and that was only because I was too spineless to say what I really thought: "It'll be 0-0." And for the first 44 minutes of the match, it certainly looked as if that were going to be the case.
Neither Aston Villa nor Norwich City seemed at all interested in playing anything that could make fans happy. Both teams looked as if their positions in the Premier League table (20th and 17th, respectively) were perfectly fair reflections of their styles. Both gave away the ball needlessly, and neither managed to challenge the keeper all that much. At one point Villa (finally) won a free kick just outside the box. Carles Gil lined up to take it, and deposited the ball in (literally) the eighth row or so. It was that kind of match.
But then, in the 45th minute, Gil redeemed himself. Crossing from a set piece on the right side, he managed to find Joleon Lescott's head, and Joleon Lescott's head managed to help the ball find the back of the net. It wasn't a great goal, but style points aren't reflected on the table, and Villa went into the half with the lead.
Every fiber of my being expected it to come crumbling down in the second half, but Norwich looked absolutely terrible while Villa came out with a bit more pep in their step. It resulted in a bizarre 51st-minute goal from Gabby Agbonlahor. He was given plenty of space by the Canaries defense, but the angle was very wide and there was no way he was going to beat the last defender or get a strong shot off. But for some reason Declan Rudd came charging out of the goal to the far edge of the box (left side for Villa), leaving no one to cover and allowing Gabby to slot in a soft shot that took forever to dribble across the line. That said, with no one in the area, it had the time it needed and Villa had a two-goal lead thanks to Gabby keeping his calm in the face of one of the worst goalkeeping decisions I've seen in quite a while.
From there things settled down. Villa continued to look like the better team without question, but the match settled down. Norwich tried to throw on subs to change the tempo, but Villa settled and played competent, confident football. It's precisely what we've been seeing from Villa lately. In many ways it's frustrating, because the team as they've played in the last month are not a team who would be relegated. But the previous months have still all but guaranteed it.
And on the note of frustration, the win today really hammers home why Tuesday's match was so important. The gap between Villa and Norwich is now seven points, but had we been able to win on Tuesday it would have been four. The win definitely helps us keep a little hope alive, but you have to wonder if it's not all a bit too late.
Nevertheless, stop looking at the big picture for a minute. Villa won! They scored two goals at Villa Park! Gabby Agbonlahor scored! That's a good way to spend two hours, and regardless of what happens, if we can get more of this I'll be a happy fan.
Thanks for not ruining our Saturday, Villa. We all needed this.