As in-form Norwich City host struggling Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup Quarter Final at Carrow Road, most of the pre-match build up will be dominated by talk of the return of Paul Lambert to his former club.
The current Villa boss not only secured two consecutive promotions with Norwich City, but also steered the Canaries to an impressive mid-table finish on their return to the Premier League. These feats attracted countless admirers and throughout the summer it seemed inevitable that Lambert would move on to a so-called bigger club as his name was continually mentioned in connection with several positions in England’s top flight.
When the split did happen it was anything but amicable and the two parties now find themselves embroiled in a court case suing each other for breach of contract. An unsavoury end to what was a fantastic partnership in East Anglia.
Lambert’s replacement Chris Hughton, has overcome a sticky start and now finds his team flying up the table on a ten match unbeaten run which has included victories over Arsenal and Manchester United in the League, and Tottenham Hotspur in the last round of this competition. They survived a strong second half comeback on Saturday to record another impressive win at Swansea.
Norwich’s chances of continuing their fine spell may be hindered by several injury worries with two of their recent standout performers potentially sidelined. Alexander Tettey, who has been solid in front of the back four and Wes Hoolahan, who has provided the extra guile in the last third of the pitch, could both be missing for this Quarter Final clash.
Aston Villa’s campaign has yet to take off and the pre-season predictions of a relegation struggle are beginning to materialise. Currently only 2 points clear of the drop zone, Lambert will be hopeful of being able to add some quality to his young, inexperienced squad during the upcoming transfer window. The major problem is the current financial situation at Villa Park, which will dictate that he must sell to buy. The most likely bargaining chip is England striker Darren Bent who has failed to impress the new manager often enough and his sale could raise the necessary funds needed to strengthen the depth of quality in the Villa roster.
The good news for Villa is they aren’t conceding bags full of goals, but on the other hand they are finding the opposition net with even less regularity. This reliance on a tight defence is the basis of a successful fight against the drop but in their predicament they need goals and quickly.
This cup fixture should provide them with a nice distraction from their travails in the league and Lambert, desperate to get one over his ex-employers, is likely to let the handbrake off and send his team out with freedom to play without the concern of picking up league points.
Where To Watch Online: Norwich City vs. Aston Villa
These two sides shared the spoils in a hard fought but entertaining 1-1 draw earlier this season at Villa Park and with the prospect of a Cup semi-final on the horizon it’s likely to be another thrilling end-to-end encounter. Don’t be surprised to see this one go to extra time and possibly even a penalty shoot-out.