As part of our Premier League snap-shots feature, Pete O'Rourke looks back on Aston Villa's 1-1 draw Norwich at Villa Park.
Last Updated: 27/10/12 7:25pm
After nine games of the Premier League season, Villa find themselves with just six points and facing up to the reality of a relegation dogfight this season.
The draw with Norwich means Villa have won just one of their last 19 games in the Premier League and just two of their last 17 at home.
Added to that Villa have only scored seven Premier League goals this season and it all adds up to tough times at Villa Park over the coming months.
Villa striker Darren Bent was axed for the third time in four games with Christian Benteke again preferred in attack alongside Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Bent wasn't the only big name to be left on the bench with Marc Albrighton starting in place of Stephen Ireland, while Chris Herd was used as a central defender in the absence of the injured Nathan Baker.
Not surprisingly Norwich boss Chris Hughton kept faith with the side which impressed in the 1-0 win against Arsenal last weekend.
For Villa it was the usual 4-4-2 formation as Lambert sent out his troops against his old side with Fabian Delph and Karim El Ahmadi the two central midfielders.
Brett Holman and Albrighton were the two wide man armed with providing the ammunition for Benteke and Agbonlahor, but after the sending off of Joe Bennett, Agbonlahor was sacrificed for defender Eric Lichaj.
Norwich chief Hughton employed a 4-4-1-1 formation with man of the match Wes Hoolahan playing just behind lone front man Grant Holt.
Hoolahan flourished in his free role and gave the Villa defence all sorts of problems with his silky skills and clever passing.
Lambert was forced into his first change of the game when bringing on Lichaj for Agbonlahor to fill in at left-back following Bennett's sending off. Bent had to wait until 69 minutes before coming on for Benteke, but the striker had little impact as he was starved of service. Andreas Weimann was also introduced 14 minutes from time for Holman, but with Villa being forced back late on in the game the Austrian youngster struggled to get into the match.
Hughton made a change at the start of the second half, bringing on Ryan Bennett for Russell Martin for a straight defensive swap. The Canaries chief made a smart move in bringing on Robert Snodgrass for Elliott Bennett just past the hour mark and the Scotland international brought more creativity to the Norwich side. Steve Morison was thrown on in attack 20 minutes from time to provide support for Holt as Norwich called the tune at Villa in search of an equaliser which they deservedly got in the end.
Phil Dowd had a fairly straightforward game with Joe Bennett giving him no choice but to hand him a red card after two simple bookable offences. There was only one other yellow card in the game dished out to Villa defender Chris Herd as the game was played in a good spirit.
The one controversial moment was his failure to award Norwich a penalty in the first half when Ron Vlaar appeared to catch Elliott Bennett in the box.
Hoolahan was the undoubted man of the match for Norwich as he was the man behind most of their attacking play. The Irishman was unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions, but he did create Norwich's equaliser for Turner.
Brad Guzan showed why he is keeping Shay Given on the sidelines with an impressive showing between the posts for Villa.
The American had to be at his best to keep out efforts from Hoolahan and Holt in each half when they found themselves one-on-one with the keeper.
If it had not been for Guzan, Norwich would have come away with the three points their performance merited.
All the focus pre-match was on Lambert coming up against his old club for the first time, but Villa face a crucial period in the next few weeks.
In their next four games Villa take on Sunderland, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal and if they do not pick up any points in those games they could find themselves in the bottom three.
Lambert was happy with his side's spirit in battling with 10 men against Norwich to earn a point, but they must show more quality if they are to avoid being involved in a relegation battle.
There were more positives to take from the game for Norwich as they did more than enough to take all three points at Villa Park.
Boosted by their win over Arsenal, Norwich were the better side even before the sending off of Bennett and with better finishing they would have scored more than one goal.
The performances of Hoolahan and Holt will also give Hughton hope that will lead to picking up more points in the coming weeks to climb further up the table.