It’s time for the one Norwich City fans have been waiting for – sort of…

Jumping for joy - but you imagine Paul Lambert will rein in the celebrations at Carrow Road on Satur

Jumping for joy - but you imagine Paul Lambert will rein in the celebrations at Carrow Road on Saturday, should he need them. - Credit: PA

So here we are then, at the fixture most Norwich City fans will have looked for when the Premier League schedule was announced back in June.

Before League Cup runs – and disappointment – this was the one. City fans smarting from what many saw as Paul Lambert’s defection from a healthy progressive club to an ailing rival that had fallen miles below its proud tradition.

While some – and I include myself – expected Lambert to get Villa flying, others relished the prospect of City sending the Brummies to their doom in an armageddon scenario that at one point looked like coming true.

Of course, the more pessimistic down Norfolk way can now picture – should they wish – the painful reverse, where a swashbuckling Villa inflict the kind of horror Carrow Road defeat that would be one Wigan victory away from impending doom.

Monday night’s impressive win at home to Sunderland certainly showed a Villa side playing at a different level to the one City faced at Villa Park in October.

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As a very young, inexperienced side that only a month or two back looked unable to defend a 3-0 deficit, never mind a lead, it will be fascinating to see how Lambert’s side deal with following up a thrilling 6-1 win. As much as they powered over the line at Carrow Road in that December League Cup quarter-final win, City should’ve been a couple of goals up long before.

And Villa’s openness at the back will be a nod to what City fans tasted during three years of glory.

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What won’t be lost on either side is the importance of the occasion, which will ultimately overshadow the return of one of the most successful managers in the Canaries’ history.

But much like events last Saturday, it may ultimately be a game elsewhere that carries the greatest significance.

The change in mood that surrounded Tottenham’s late equaliser at Wigan far outweighed anything being watched – or at least sat through – at the Britannia Stadium.

If Wigan fail to claw back some of the current six-point deficit to Villa – and more to everyone else – with their trip to West Brom, events beyond The Hawthorns will be secondary.

That may at least ease the Carrow Road atmosphere, if not be open knowledge to the players on the pitch.

But it won’t stop any City fans wanting to get one over their old hero, however they now view him or the man in his old job.

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