Aston Villa vs. Norwich City
Venue: Villa Park
Kick Off: 3PM
Norwich City could become the first club to be relegated from the Premier League this season when they travel to Aston Villa this afternoon.
The Canaries lost 3-0 at home to Newcastle United last time out, while Steven Gerrard’s side halted their losing run away to Leicester City.
For all of the talent at his disposal in the West Midlands, Gerrard’s Aston Villa are still struggling to go toe-to-toe with the big boys, but the Lions at least managed to end their losing run at the home of Europa Conference League semi-finalists Leicester last time out.
A goalless stalemate saw Gerrard’s side finally post another point on the board after a run of four consecutive defeats in the top flight, and with just six games left to play this season, Villa’s side are not quite safe from the threat of demotion just yet.
Indeed, taking one point from the last 15 on offer in the Premier League sees Villa languishing in 15th spot in the rankings – eight points clear of Everton in the bottom three – but the Lions still have a game in hand on most of the sides around them and will meet Burnley twice before the campaign concludes.
The fact that the hosts have only managed to score two goals in their five-game string of failures will be even more concerning for Gerrard, whose side have also won just one of their last seven Premier League games at Villa Park and have kept just one league clean sheet at home since December.
With Liverpool and Manchester City also lying in wait for Villa before the season ends, the importance of gleaning a positive result this weekend cannot be understated, and it is one that may send Norwich back down to the second tier once again.
Norwich’s fate has not been sealed just yet, but Dean Smith’s side would need to pull off the great escape to trump all great escapes to remain in the Premier League, and the Championship has been beckoning for the Canaries for a little while now.
Joelinton’s brace and Bruno Guimaraes’s delightful chip handed Newcastle all three points at Carrow Road last weekend, and having to face West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester and Tottenham Hotspur before the season ends is seemingly a recipe for relegation for the Canaries.
Norwich remain rooted to the bottom of the rankings with only five games left to play, and should Smith’s side lose at Villa Park while Burnley get the better of 19th-placed Watford, their drop back down to the Championship will be confirmed before the start of May.
While Norwich may not boast the label of being the worst Premier League side on the road this season – that unwanted record belongs to Everton – they have lost four of their last five away from home in the top flight and need a dash of inspiration from somewhere to stay alive in the relegation dogfight that little bit longer.
Jacob Ramsey and Ollie Watkins both helped themselves to goals in a 2-0 triumph for Villa at Carrow Road earlier this season, which represented the Lions’ fourth Premier League win on the bounce against Norwich, and the hosts need only repeat the trick to most likely condemn the Canaries to another year of second-tier football.
Aston Villa possible XI: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young, McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho.
Norwich City possible XI: Krul, Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams, Gilmour, Normann, Lees-Melou, Dowell, Pukki, Rashica.