It’s pretty simple: If Norwich City better Aston Villa’s result Saturday, the Villans will be relegated from the top flight for the first time in 29 years. The Canaries visit struggling Crystal Palace, while AFC Bournemouth, who can hit the “magic” 40-point figure with a win, make the trip to Villa Park.
We’ve known it for a while, but it could finally be official this week.
What to know about Villa
I don’t know at this point, man. It’s been forever since Villa last scored, and it’s hard to see where that inspiration is coming from, to be frank.
With relegation effectively assured — there’s no great escape coming this year — I’d love to see caretaker boss Eric Black step up and play the youth the rest of the way in. Black talked about there being an “unpleasant” atmosphere at Villa Park, but I think most of us would be perfectly fine with whatever result we get Saturday if it’s André Green, the fit-again Jack Grealish, Jordan Lyden and Adama Traoré leading Villa. These are players that are going to be important for the promotion push next year and further, guys that will have to be significantly included in the setup if Villa are going to progress into the top half of the Premier League following their return, whenever that may be.
It’s important to figure out what these guys can do right now, especially when facing opponents like Bournemouth, Watford and Newcastle United — two clubs that probably aren’t far off from the top Championships sides and one that’ll be down there with you next year.
Adama and Grealish being fit again is a boost, and Black should make a statement for where the club will go forward by once more backing Grealish. It was at this time of the year last season when Grealish’s inclusion from Tim Sherwood boosted Villa to survival and an FA Cup Final. Obviously, neither of those things are going to happen this time around, but restoring confidence to the midfielder would be a great use of these last six outings.
What to know about Bournemouth
If it weren’t for Leicester City sitting at the top of the table, Eddie Howe’s Cherries would be the story of the year. Most didn’t think they were capable of staying in the division at the start of the season, and when Callum Wilson went down with an injury early on, the task got a lot more difficult. But they’ve been smart in the transfer windows and have played really good football.
I think I speak for most everyone when I say I hope Bournemouth can stay in the division for a few more years after this one. They’re a refreshing addition to the league and a feel-good story. I’ll probably get behind them next year without a dog in the fight in the Premier League.
Max Gradel will provide a lot of the attack down the wings, while Lewis Grabban is set to be the main man up top.
It’s funny thinking back to that season-opening, gritty 1-0 win that led me to praise Tim Sherwood’s tactics. What a world we live in, man.
Bovada: Villa +245, Bournemouth +115, Draw +230
Paddy Power: Villa 12/5, Bournemouth 6/5, Draw 23/10
SkyBet: Villa 5/2, Bournemouth 11/10, Draw 12/5
For a club like Bournemouth, though they’re effectively safe, hitting that 40-point target will be a sense of pride. And I’ll believe we’ll see a passionate performance out of Villa when I see it.
The Claret and Blues get a goal for the first time in forever, but fall 3-1, confirming their relegation with a Norwich result.