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Aston Villa v Norwich: Jamie Carragher expects both clubs to survive

Jamie Carragher - Jamie Carragher Posted 27th February 2014 view comments

Aston Villa and Norwich are nearer to the relegation zone than they would like to be, but I think both teams will have just enough to stay up this season.

Villa are struggling at home and finding goals very hard to come by at the moment - they have only scored once in their last four games - but I saw positive signs at St James' Park last week when they lost to a late Loic Remy strike.

Handy Andy: winger Weimann can help keep Villa up, says Carra

Handy Andy: winger Weimann can help keep Villa up, says Carra

They performed very well in the first half and should probably have gone in at the break in front, and even though Newcastle improved in the second 45 minutes, it was not a game Villa deserved to lose.

Still, they will make things hard for themselves if they can't hit the net and the fact only nine players have scored a Premier League goal for Villa this season shows how big that issue is.

I do think his link-up with Weimann and Agbonlahor is what will ultimately keep Villa in the Premier League.

Jamie Carragher on Christian Benteke
Quotes of the week

It is made even bigger by the fact Christian Benteke is struggling a little bit; if one guy is getting goals it takes pressure off the other players but with him not hitting the heights of last season every attacking player is under scrutiny.

Benteke was wonderful last year but he was always going to find things tougher in his second campaign, particularly with him being so young and having had a spell out through injury.

Paul Lambert will be looking for a bit more from him in the final few months of the season and I do think his link-up with Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor is what will ultimately keep Villa in the Premier League.

There is a lot of power, pace and movement in that trio and away from home especially - where they have lost just five of their 14 games and beaten Arsenal and Southampton - I can see them getting a lot more points.

I also think Ron Vlaar's experience at the back will prove key and it's no surprise to me that there are murmurings about him getting a new contract, while Brad Guzan also looks like the sort of goalkeeper you can rely on to keep you in games.

He has been a quality performer over the last 18 months and really justified his selection over a 'keeper as good as Shay Given, so it looks an inspired move from Lambert to give him the nod.

Knack

Villa's experience of avoiding relegation last year should also give them confidence, but Norwich should be buoyant, too, after their big - and much deserved - win at home to Tottenham last week.

Chris Hughton's team were very organised and made it hard for Spurs to break them down but they had lots of chances and could have added to their lead, given to them by Robert Snodgrass, on the counter attack.

Norwich always seem to have this knack of getting a big result out of nowhere when they really need it - it's been a big part of Hughton's reign - and that, along with their new-found defensive solidity, is why I think they will be okay.

A lot of sides down the bottom are shipping goals - and Norwich, to be fair, did that earlier in the season - but they have now kept four clean sheets in six games, including one against Man City, which has given them a real base.

Centre-back Joseph Yobo is an old head these days but I think he has been a very good addition and his partnership with Sebastien Bassong looks a very promising one, and as a former defender Hughton is well aware of what things to work on at the back.Sunday's game could see one club make real headway between themselves and the bottom three and it is likely to be a spicy affair with Lambert coming up against the side he took from League One into the Premier League.

I'm sure Norwich fans were disappointed when their manager left but it was an understandable move because Villa are the bigger club, even though City fans could point to them finishing four points above their opponents last season.

Villa are a massive name in English football and really should be in the top 10, if not pushing for Europe, so you can see exactly why Lambert was lured away from Norwich, where he did a fantastic job.

Still, club size will mean nothing on Sunday in a game I'm really looking forward to.

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