Liam Ridgewell, Lee Hendrie and Nolberto Solano were all on target as Villa ended a drought that had elicited a solitary goal and three points in five games. “I was delighted we scored goals,” David O'Leary sagely opined as he reflected on the “must-win game.” As his strikers have not scored in 30 games between them now, this ranks alongside the posthumous revelation that Freddie Mercury (handlebar moustache, white vest, penchant for cross-dressing) was not entirely heterosexual in the realm of surprise.
Following yesterday’s match at Villa Park, the Irishman has now admitted he is actively seeking to buffer his frontline. One player who has been linked with the club is Dean Ashton, before the Crewe striker sealed a £3m move to Norwich and it did not take him long to find the net on his debut, albeit at the wrong end, even if it was credited to Ridgewell. Norwich defended Solano's free-kick too deeply, the 20-year-old centre-back headed on and the ball brushed the burly striker's chest to take it past Robert Green.
Ashton was effective at holding the ball up at the other end, and he did send a shot just wide, but a second goal was always coming from Villa, with Mathieu Berson playing in the holding role and Hendrie looking slick as he harried the visitors’ defence. It was the waspish chav who doubled the lead when Solano collected a Sørensen throw and fed Juan Pablo Angel whose deft lay off found Hendrie on the right and the midfield player coolly finished to Robert Green’s left.
Nigel Worthington shuffled his pack, but to no avail as Villa began to pepper Green’s goal with shots. Their first-half performance had obviously lifted O’Leary’s side, who suddenly believed they were the Harlem Globetrotters as they over-elaborated when nearing the final third. In truth, they are more like the tubby white guys the Globetrotters invariably find themselves facing, however, and for all their possession, it was not until 14 minutes from time when Solano made it three, heading in Hendrie’s miscued shot.
It was the Peruvian’s sixth strike of the season, while Hendrie has five, the same number as Angel and Cole have scored between them. The midfield can continue to paper over the cracks but against teams better than Norwich – and there are about 17 in the Premiership – the lack of striking form will hinder the side as they eye up a UEFA Cup place once more.