Premier League

Aston Villa-Norwich City Preview

Though newcomers Norwich City and Aston Villa have had their moments of exultation in their return to the Premier League, victories have been relatively hard to come by for both sides in these early goings.

They hope the month of October will bring better results when they square off Saturday at Carrow Road.

As the Premier League table looks at the moment, Norwich (2-0-5) sit 17th, one spot and one point ahead of Aston Villa (1-2-4), who sit atop the relegation zone. Though the fact that both sides are in those positions should not be a complete surprise, they've actually enjoyed moments of brilliance early on in the campaign.

Norwich rebounded from a 4-1 opening loss at Liverpool with a 3-1 triumph over Newcastle United and are playing their first home contest since that stunning 3-2 victory over defending league champions Manchester City on Sept. 14. However, the Canaries return home from being blanked in their last two matches - both 2-0 defeats at Burnley and last week at Crystal Palace.

"We have to show great commitment and great desire," manager Daniel Farke, whose club is also dealing with a bevy of injuries, told Norwich's official website. "As a newly promoted side with so many problems, you can't expect to be always on the front foot and dominate each and every period of the game. We work hard in training, but this is a learning curve."

The good news for Norwich is that they've scored all but one of their nine goals this season at home. Teemu Pukki has scored five of his team-leading six at Carrow Road.

Villa, whose lone victory came in impressive fashion of the 2-0 variety over Everton at home on Aug. 23, have taken two points from their last three matches, though they allowed an 81st-minute equaliser in last weekend's 2-2 home draw with Burnley.

"We can take some real positives from the season so far. We haven't got the wins that we would have wanted, but we're not far off at all," defender Matt Targett told Aston Villa Football Club TV. "We need to get more ruthless, and then I'm sure the results will come."

That certainly needs to be the case on the road, where the Villans have been outscored 7-3 whilst losing all three away from home to open the campaign.

Villa have lost three in a row versus Norwich, and the last four meetings at Carrow Road. However, Villans coach Dean Smith believes things could be different this weekend.

"We have full respect for what they are," Smith said of Norwich. "But, in the two (wins) that they had against us (in the Championship last season), they haven't played against this Aston Villa yet ... There are a number of players who haven't played against Norwich City with us yet. It'll be an interesting game and one we're looking forward to."

One of them is Scottish midfielder John McGinn, who scored against Burnley and leads the Villans with three top-flight goals on the season.

Updated October 3, 2019

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