Before Villa kicked off yesterday, the writing seemed to be on the wall despite our expectations. An unchanged Aston Villa side against a team they should beat?
Oh, what could happen? I wonder if there’s anything behind the fact that Villa’s scoreline in the QPR match and this match are exactly the same.
Last time out against Norwich, the Villans conceded twice, but found the net four times with three goals from Conor Hourihane. It’d have been something if he’d have done the same thing for Villa, but hey - that’s the Championship for you...
Both teams started sluggishly, and there were big worries for Aston Villa when John Terry fell down injured in the first half. He might have been wishing that he’d have stayed down, because the going would shortly get tough for Villa.
Josh Murphy trickled along from the edge of the box, and hit a world-class finish past Sam Johnstone from a long way out. It was a stunning goal, and Villa looked exactly that.
The second half had little relief for Villa as Dennis Srbeny doubled the lead for Norwich after receiving a dinked ball over from Harrison Reed. Jack Grealish grabbed one back with a neat finish before paying tribute to the recently departed Ray Wilkins with a shirt-message. It mattered not, though, as Norwich sealed off victory through James Maddison, who plucked a goal home to pretty much end Villa’s hope of automatic promotion.
It was some blessing for Villa that the goalscoring ended there, as Norwich seemed destined to add another, but Wes Hoolahan among others fell short in the face of goal.
These losses seem to come on an almost industrial basis - and while they kept away for a large part of 2018, they do feel very much routine for Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa, who should be seen as having under-performed. This side are destined for the playoffs, and may succeed in the lottery of that specific competition.
Villa are now some way off Cardiff in second place, and the two teams will face each other on Tuesday, and Villa should be wondering about what could have been if they manage to turn over the Bluebirds in midweek. Here’s the rest of the action from yesterday’s defeat.
Cheers to everyone who contributed to this rolling forum of misery on Saturday.
Expected goals can tell us a fair bit about a match. Here’s an explainer. In the long term we can judge how well a team is doing in front of goal. On a match-by-match basis, we can simply judge chances, and how well they are taken.
Villa: 0.9 (1)
Norwich: 1.4 (3)
Villa will regret not making the most of a Scott Hogan chance on about 25 minutes, which was Villa’s best chance of the entire game. Still, Hogan can’t be blamed, as Aston Villa pretty much failed to make another scoring chance for the rest of the match. Both teams kicked their scoring off by burying long-range efforts (despite the majesty of Josh Murphy’s effort, it looks like the model is giving out the same xG for his goal and Grealish’s goal) before Norwich sealed the deal by burying two clear-cut chances. Norwich simply went on to create more, and Villa can’t regret their finishing - but their chance creation. It seemed like they went 30 minutes without doing anything in the goal mouth. That’s relegation form in front of goal.
Goalscorers: Jack Grealish bagged one for Villa while Josh Murphy, Dennis Srbeny and James Maddison netted for Norwich
Big winners: Birkir Bjarnason looked decent, but couldn’t do much as Villa failed to hand him ANY support. Jack Grealish also scored.
Big losers: Neil Taylor and Ahmed Elmohamady put in some effort to look so poor. Pick it up boys. Also, Scott Hogan should have buried his chance in the first half.
Best moment: Really? I’m going to give it to Norwich. That was a hell of a hit from Josh Murphy to open the scoring, and their team seem buoyed by it.
Worst moment: Watching Steve Bruce think chucking two strikers on would help, again.
Man of the Match: Jack Grealish scored a goal, so he wins by default. Birkir Bjarnason was perhaps the only person to look like he was playing a normal game of football.