Must win game against Norwich today, facts and a video

Christmas is a strange time of year, not least because I'm sat here feeling a little rough and I've been up for a few hours. But it's been productive. I've had a few good runs at the ski hill, I've tidied the house up a bit and the beer is in the fridge ready for this afternoon.

And some of you may recall that a few posts ago I wrote that we had to get a minimum of six points from the games in December. Well, the manager is now calling this a must win game. It's words I don't like to see him using, but he's used them now.

It's the easiest way for the manager to get trapped. If he says it's must win and we don't, people are going to jump on his back. The thing is, I don't think Dean Smith doesn't know what he's saying, so why is he saying it? It's one thing to try to get the supporters on side, believing in this side, it's another to throw yourself under the bus.

But today is a must win game and I suppose that it has become that, is down to the manager. Questions have been asked about the formations and it is a little baffling. But one thing we can't start to do is look at how the likes of Norwich and Watford coming up, have done against other sides. We are all where we are supposed to be on how we have performed this season.

We have to treat every game as eleven against eleven. We have to approach every match as one we can win and do what is necessary in those matches to win. It's not rocket science and it's often made more complicated that it should be. But the manager is going to be forced to change things now and mostly because of John McGinn.

McGinn is out for a few months, maybe the season and with him not in the team, it means we have to approach things differently. You could argue that we can't play three in the middle because the workhorse is not available. That he was treated that way for us, but not for Scotland or even last season, is maybe why we think of him as a workhorse now and now the creative player that he can be.

So if we have to go to four in the middle or even five, I think it can only help. But only time will tell. Or actually, this afternoon. It's going to be interesting.

Match facts from the BBC


  • Villa won 5-1 at Carrow Road in the reverse fixture in October.
  • Villa could win both top-flight matches against Norwich in a single season for the third time, after 1980-81 and 2013-14. The Canaries were relegated in both of those campaigns.
  • Norwich are winless in their last seven top-flight visits to Villa Park (D3, L4) but they did win there in the Championship last season.

Aston Villa

  • Aston Villa have lost their last four league games, and have earned just four points from their last nine league matches (W1, D1, L7).
  • Villa have lost three of their last four home league games.
  • They have conceded seven goals in their last two home Premier League matches, as many as they had in their first seven at Villa Park this season.
  • Villa could equal the club's Premier League record of conceding multiple goals in six successive fixtures, set in 2009 and matched in 2014.
  • Villa are winless in their last nine Premier League Boxing Day games (D4, L5), scoring just one goal in their last five. Only Newcastle have lost more Premier League games on 26 December than Aston Villa.
  • Jack Grealish has scored three goals in his last five Premier League matches, as many as he had in his previous 45.

Norwich City

  • Norwich have lost three of their last four league games, and have won just one of their previous 13 (D3, L9).
  • The Canaries are one of two clubs, along with Chelsea, not to have won a Premier League point from a losing position this season.
  • Norwich have played six Premier League matches on Boxing Day without a victory (D1, L5), more than any other side.
  • Their only Boxing Day Premier League goal was scored by Gary Hooper in a 2-1 home defeat by Fulham in 2013.
  • Todd Cantwell has been directly involved in seven Premier League goals this season (five goals and two assists), more than double his tally in the Championship last term (one goal and two assists).

The manager