Aston Villa and Norwich, 13th and 14th respectively. Both have played 27 matches, and both have 28 points in the Premier League. There isn't much to separate the two sides, but when they meet at Villa Park on Sunday, something has to give.
Chris Hughton silenced his critics last weekend, guiding Norwich one step closer to safety with a win against Tottenham. Many had predicted he was a game away from the sack, but three points at Carrow Road against a side not many expected them to beat will have hugely helped the Canaries' cause.
Aston Villa have won just twice since December 4th, but Paul Lambert will be hopeful of completing the double over a side in a similarly perilous position… a side he was managing just over 18 months ago. When the two met in September, a single Libor Kozak goal was enough to separate the teams. Another result like that would enable Paul Lambert to breathe a sigh of relief, but it will have to come from a player other than the aforementioned Kozak, a leg break ended his season in January.
Ryan Bertrand is another who may miss out, after Lambert revealed that he is struggling with illness in the lead-up to the match. Charles N'Zogbia (calf) and Jores Okore (knee) are both recovering from long-term injuries, but will be back in a matter of weeks rather than months.
Norwich are still without Jonas Gutierrez (calf), Elliott Bennett (knee) and Michael Turner (hamstring), while Ryan Bennett (hip) also just misses out. Another player Norwich are without, is striker Grant Holt. The 32-year-old is on loan at Aston Villa, and described facing the club he has made 154 appearances for as “very, very weird.”
Premier League matchround 28 player head-to-heads
The game on Sunday may go a long way to deciding who is safe and who is not, and both Aston Villa and Norwich will be doing everything to ensure it is not them scrapping away at the bottom come May.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Norwich 0 Aston Villa 1 (Kozak), Premier League, September 2013
Norwich 1 (Holt) Aston Villa 2 (Agbonlahor 2), Premier League, May 2013
Norwich 1 (Holt) Aston Villa 4 (Holman, Weimann 2, Benteke), Capital One Cup, December 2012
Aston Villa have lost just one of their last 11 league meetings against Norwich City (W5 D5 L1).
Norwich have failed to score in six of their last 12 Premier League games, and have scored exactly one in each of the other six.
Aston Villa have scored just one goal from a corner this season, the fewest of any team in the Premier League.
Leroy Fer has committed more fouls than any other player in the top division this season (49).
Aston Villa to win: 2.18
Norwich City to win: 4
TV: Live coverage on Sky Sports 3, Sunday 4.30pm (Highlights on BBC1, Sunday 10.25pm)Reuse content