[Editor’s Note] Every match, Liam - our young writer - selects a ‘man of the match’ - win, lose or draw.
Conor Hourihane’s powerful finish helped Aston Villa end their four-match losing streak after beating Norwich City 1-0. The Canaries now sit at the bottom of the Premier League table whilst the Villans are only one point inside the relegation zone.
Before yesterday’s Boxing Day fixture, Dean Smith during his pre-match press conference emphasised the improvement of Norwich City’s team and how difficult it will be against Farke’s men. “Every game is a must-win. We were in the bottom three when we went to Norwich earlier in the season and we beat them 5-1. I’m not saying that it’s going to be 5-1 on Boxing Day because they look a very much improved team . They’ve played well in their last two games and they’ve got a lot of injured players back.” Over 40,000 Villans arrived at Villa Park hoping for a post-Christmas present of three points in order to relieve some of the pressure on Dean Smith’s side. On a cold afternoon in Aston could the boys in claret and blue secure their 5th win of the season?
Both sides created chances in the early stages of the Premier League fixture with Douglas Luiz and Trézéguet as well as Cantwell and Pukki going close to scoring for their respective sides. Despite creating lots of chances, Aston Villa for the first time at home this season failed to record a single shot on target in the first half.
The visitors continued to look the most likely to open the scoring until the Irishman Hourihane broke the deadlock in the 64th minute. The midfielder stayed cool under pressure and fired the ball past a helpless Tim Krul to secure the home side all three points.
Daniel Farke’s side were unlucky not to leave Villa Park with at least a point as the Canaries dominated statistics regarding shots, shots on target and possession however if it wasn’t for my Man of the Match Conor Hourihane’s prolific nature then the Villans may not have celebrated a win at full time.
The Bandon-born footballer was the difference maker yesterday, scoring his second consecutive goal on Boxing Day after scoring the wining goal against Swansea City last season on the 26th December. His artfulness was much needed in the midfield in order to support the other attacking entities within Villa’s team. YouTube personality Max Stokes was also impressed with Hourihane. “Conor Hourihane is the man who always seems to haunt Norwich City. Personally, I would’ve loved him to start and as the game progressed, it was clear that if he were to come on, he would almost certainly make an impact and he did. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s one of our most creative players and although he may go missing in a few games, I don’t feel you can take him out in the majority of games purely based on the goal threat he carries. One of our most impactful and creative players. Should be one of the first names on the team sheet. Quality player that I’ve got a lot of respect time for.”
Can Aston Villa become victorious once again against Watford tomorrow? Let’s hope for another victory for Dean Smith’s side.