Chris Hughton has become quite the villain in recent times to Villa. It started when his Newcastle team beat Villa 6-0 at St James Park 2c games after Martin O’Neill’s shock departure. Worse was to come as he decided to take the reigns at the hated Blues down the road. Finally it was his part in the Wes Hoolahan January transfer saga that is most disturbing. Hughton has publicly said that Hoolahan does not work in his system, but was unwilling to part ways with him.
It was no surprise then that Hughton was ready to use Hoolahan simply as an ‘in your face Villa’ and decided to throw away his tactics. What a start for him as the Villa fans watched what they missed out on as he linked up with Hooper to rip into the Villa defence like they were Sturridge and Suarez tearing apart Southampton.
Hooper latched onto Hoolahan’s through ball, faked a pass, went one more step then passed and HOOLAHAN stretched to divert the ball in for 1-0.
Norwich sat back in a contain style and relied on the counter attack and looked way more likely to score a second goal than Villa to even score one. Villa passed the ball around but a lot of missed passes and lack of creativity in the last third ended any decent possession.
When Villa scored it was out of the blue and most welcome. Vlaar could not find an open player to lay the ball off to and held on to the ball looking for a good pass when he saw BENTEKE in the box. He hit a long ball at the target man, got him square in the chest and the Belgian somehow managed to turn and strike the ball over his shoulder into the roof of the net.
Two and a half minutes later BENTEKE struck again, out muscling Bassong to head home a Westwood corner.
Norwich sprung to life again and pinned Villa back and Hoolahan saw a one on one saved by Guzan and his follow up header blocked for a corner by Delph. Villa cleared the corner and went on the break like it was playing away from home. Gabby received a pass and tore down the field, with 3 players converging on him he found a lovely reverse pass to Weimann. Weimann held the ball long enough to allow BACUNA to make his first foray into the box, when he received the pass his first touch took the defender out of the equation and his low shot went in off the post with Ruddy only able to get a slight hand on it.
Just before half time a lovely one two between Delph and Bertrand opened the defence and Delphs cross was clattered into the net by a distraught BASSONG, who claimed to have been shoved by Gabby.
It was time for the party to start. Villa began playing the beautiful game, missing for months now, with a swagger. The fans started chanting we’re winning at home and all seemed right with the world. The half finished with Villa controlling 61% of possession.
The second half was a formality, with both sides enjoying chances, the best fell to Norwich late on but Guzan pulled out another save. The only criticism I have of Lambert is the same one I always had for MON. He had a 4-1 lead with 15 minutes to go and he had youngster Callum Robinson on the bench. Bring the lad on for a taste of a prem game.
Guzan Couple of nice saves, but really not that busy.
Bacuna: Pinned back early on, broke forward for the goal, but overall a quiet game.
Vlaar: Marshalled everything well
Baker: Apart from the early goal being on his side, another very good performance, 2 in a row.
Bertrand: A class above.
Westwood: Possibly guilty of not helping the defence on the first goal, followed by 2 poor passes, then seemingly confused by Hoolahan, but ended up having another solid game.
Al Ahmadi: Good game going forward, but nothing special.
Delph: Improvement over Newcastle, but still trying to do too much. Nice assist for the 4th goal.
Weimann: Big improvement and an assist, but should have done a lot better on a second half shot.
Agbonlahor: Norwich needed a player that works like him up front. Norwich struggled with him all game.
Benteke: Early on he had a mazy run across the centre of the field from almost the sideline to sideline and I thought to myself he’s up for it today. Sure enough he looked very interested.
Holt: Showed some decent touches, but really did nothing.
Albrighton: Little anonymous on the left wing.
Lambert: Got his team to recover from last week’s loss and from being a goal down early.
Hughton: Seemed to play tactics out of maliciousness, rather than to win. He has been tipped for dismissal and if true that Hoolahan was only playing to taunt Villa would deserve everything he gets.
Referee: annoying. Let some things go, but over the top on others. He got the Baker incident right as Tettey had no intention of hurting Baker.