David Freezer: Attack has to be the best form of defence again for Canaries against Villa
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There’s nothing like an injury crisis to spoil the party in football, but at least Norwich City fans know their players can rise to the challenge in adversity.
It would be easy to get bogged down in the problems inhibiting the Canaries' top-flight hopes in recent weeks, on the back of two away defeats when few could argue City had deserved more.
Yet in the bizarre world of Premier League football, I get the sense that supporters can't wait to get back to Carrow Road this afternoon, to return to the scene of that jubilant victory over the champions - when, let's not forget, injury woes had already emerged.
Farke's depleted squad beating Manchester City in those circumstances makes it clear that they can beat another of the promoted sides when Aston Villa arrive in Norfolk.
That came down to a highly-motivated display though, brimming with determination, desperation and clinical decision making. Let's hope City managed to bottle some of that special spirit, as it will be needed again.
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The Canaries return to their 'living room' longing for the comforts of home, where defeat has been tasted just once in 13 matches, during that dramatic 3-2 defeat to a vibrant Chelsea.
Those 13 home games have seen City plunder 33 goals in the process, winning nine, drawing three and conceding 18. They may have stepped up a level but just returning to Carrow Road will provide a helpful boost.
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There are also landmarks to be celebrated in front of home fans who will be relishing the prospect of roaring their team on to more against-the-odds success.
Farke's 100th league match as head coach is joined, unusually, by three players all reaching their half century on the same day - assuming they avoid the dreaded injury curse.
Max Aarons, Emi Buendia and Moritz Leitner are all poised to make their 50th appearance in all competitions for the Canaries, all of whom have emerged at Norwich under Farke to be heralded as crucial players.
Aarons had to come straight back in from his ankle injury at Palace last weekend, due to Sam Byram having his own ankle issue. Byram had impressed during the win over Manchester City by getting stuck in and making more tackles (four) and interceptions (five) than any Norwich player.
You could see at Selhurst Park that Aarons offered more offensively and had a more established understanding with Buendia but in the current circumstance the 19-year-old will need to show that same defensive strength - during one the toughest spells of Farke's reign.
Both front-line goalkeepers are out, Michael McGovern has been a reserve for over two years and an 18-year-old with no first-team experience, Archie Mair, is set for the bench.
Ben Godfrey will play through the pain of a hernia, Jamal Lewis with a damaged elbow ligament and Ibrahim Amadou has primarily played as a defensive midfielder in recent seasons.
With Grant Hanley (groin) joining Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann (knee injuries) on the sidelines and defensive midfielders Tom Trybull and Alex Tettey unavailable, that back-line is going to have to dig deep again to protect their goalkeeper.
Thankfully attacking options aren't too damaged but that means that once again the importance of those attackers defending from the front will be so important.
One area that requires attention on that front is in the air. Last season City averaged 17 successful aerial duels per game but currently that is down at 10.9, the lowest average in the top flight.
Ultimately the difference between home and away games however has been clinical finishing. Farke's team have hit the target with 29 of their 69 shots so far this season (42pc), to score their nine goals.
Yet 16 of those 29 shots on target (55pc) have come at home, despite playing an away game more so far. That accuracy - Teemu Pukki's speciality, of course - left the champions shell-shocked and must persist to beat Villa.
Attack may not always be the best form of defence but in the current scenario, it has to be for the Canaries.
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