There is no doubt Chris Hughton would have preferred a calmer end to his first season at Norwich. Inconsistency has dogged the Canaries this term and leaves them still unsure of their Premier League status heading into the run-in with Hughton facing a pivotal face-off against predecessor Paul Lambert. Currently stuck on 38 points the he knows his side only require one more victory to relieve the tension currently gripping Carrow Road and getting one over on Lambert would add an extra shine for the clubs supporters. They should be confident considering Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea are the only teams to take maximum points away from Norwich on their own turf.
Confidence is something Aston Villa have stocked in abundance following their 6-1 demolition on Monday night, which made it four wins in in their last seven games. That result lifted Lambert’s men five points clear of the relegation zone and put them in reach of top-flight safety. However, sentiment is often the killer when managers or players return to their former clubs, but the 43-year-old has already proven that won’t be an issue following Villa’s 4-1 success in the Capital One Cup. His young side have come through a gruelling teething stage to emerge a exciting and well drilled unit in recent weeks and with Christian Benteke leading the line and scoring for fun, optimism levels should be through the roof.
Goalkeeper John Ruddy is back in contention for Norwich following a five-month stint on the sidelines. Michael Turner (groin) is out but defensive partner Sebastien Bassong is available after overcoming an ankle problem.
Ciaran Clark (foot) and Karim El Ahmadi (groin) are out for Aston Villa again after they missed the win over Sunderland on Monday leaving Paul Lambert with no fresh injury concerns.
What the managers said…
“It is a nervy time for everybody. That is normal. Until you are confident you are clear of that there is always apprehension. We have to make sure we do enough in the next two home games in particular to get us over the line because I have always said around that 40 (point mark). Chris Hughton wants Norwich to make their home form count (Eastern Daily Press)
The way the night transpired, with the crowd and the atmosphere, was fantastic. But it’s important to move on. We’re playing really well at the moment but the minute anyone thinks we’ve done it…we’ll try and avoid that. This season the margins are smaller than ever in that fight. It means every team that hasn’t got 39 or 40 points is still involved in that fight.” Paul Lambert is fearful Monday’s 6-1 drubbing of Sunderland could skew Aston Villa’s survival focus (Independent)
Pre-match Statistic: Norwich are 19 league games without a clean sheet, while Christian Benteke has scored 13 goals in 15 appearances for Villa in 2013.
Prediction: Norwich City 1-1 Aston Villa