In a game that Villa would have certainly expected to win at the start of the season, they never really looked like grabbing the victory as Norwich were unlucky to draw 1-1 at Villa Park on Saturday.
Villa took the lead early on through Christian Benteke who was starting in place of Darren Bent once more, but Norwich were the much stronger team and deservedly equalised late on through Michael Turner to give Aston Villa their worst start to a season for 42 years.
It was a game that was filled with mistakes from Aston Villa, both from players and from manager Paul Lambert. Although Villa did not look great, they were comfortable at 1-0 at the start of the second half, but Joe Bennett’s sending off really damaged the team’s confidence, who barely attacked thereafter. Bennett struggled during the first half, looking out of his depth as he has done for several of his performances so far this season. There is no doubt that he has talent, but his lack of experience and know-how was there for all to see as he was given his second yellow card for a challenge he really never should have made on Elliot Bennet. Lambert really should have noticed the young left back struggling and made a change before it was too late, especially as he had already started the game with a young full back Matt Lowton and an untried centre back in Chris Herd. It was no surprise that it would be a mistake that led to the goal, Villa not picking up the spare man Hoolahan from a short corner routine, leaving Turner with a relatively easy header into the far corner.
Fabian Delph was another player who had a poor game, putting Villa in trouble on several occasions as his passing and awareness was below the standard needed to be successful in the Premier League. Following his big money move from Leeds during the O’Neill era, Delph has never really proven himself to be good enough for the top level of football, with injuries severely hampering his progress. In a team that lacked experience, Stephen Ireland may well have been a better option for Lambert, with the Irishman failing to make an appearance once more for his club.
Despite the negatives, captain Ron Vlaar and goalkeeper Brad Guzan put in terrific performances, with Vlaar’s all action style reminding most Villa fans of club legend Martin Laursen. Brad Guzan kept his team in the game, making several impressive saves as Norwich dominated, and Lambert will hope his American ’keeper Guzan and his captain Vlaar can continue that form if his team are to achieve anything but relegation this season. Lambert’s faith in youth players is admirable, but when a team is having a tough time there is only one factor that will get you out of it; experience.
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