Norwich City Head Coach Daniel Farke says the power of Carrow Road should not be underestimated.
Addressing the media at his pre-match press conference on Friday, the boss updated journalists on the fitness of his squad. Given the lengthy nature of the injury list, Farke suggests that Aston Villa are favourites for this weekend's game, but that the home advantage can be pivotal in getting a result.
“If you want to search for it, you will find many reasons why Villa are favourites to win this game,” he said. “I can’t find too many arguments on our side but one thing you shouldn’t underestimate is the spirit and resilience of my players, or the spirit and togetherness of Carrow Road.
“We always enjoy playing in front of an excited home crowd. Life is so quick in the Premier League. After the Manchester City game, it felt like we had won the title. Two weeks later, we had lost two difficult away games with many injured players.
“In the home games, the stadium has been a fortress so far. We had a good performance against Chelsea, played Newcastle out the park and were able to beat Man City. We can trust our supporters, because they have a good feeling that in these difficult situations, we need them to stick together. They will be coming in a good mood, trying to cheer us up and trying to back us.”
Discussing Aston Villa specifically, Farke is under no illusions of the quality of Dean Smith’s heavily changed side from the one Norwich faced in the Championship last season.
“John McGinn isn’t the only threat, we have to think about Jack Grealish as well,” he said. “He’s a great player, but McGinn is in great shape. It’s important that we control the centre of the game and control their midfield.
“Dean Smith was spot on when he said we haven’t played ‘this’ Villa side yet. We played them twice last season and deservedly won both games. They spent an unbelievable amount of money in the summer and brought in many quality players. It’s difficult because you can’t compare them with us or Sheffield United. The potential of Villa is to be a giant again in England and one day Europe.
“I always appreciated the work Dean did at Brentford and Villa. I like his philosophy and approach, so I’m full of respect for what he’s achieved. They were a possession-based side in the Championship, so it’s not easy for them to bring that up to the Premier League with several new faces. They stick to their principles which is a good base to being successful.
“Every game is important because at this level you have to fight and struggle for points to achieve your targets. We know that we have a difficult situation, but it doesn’t take anything away from our desire to be successful. If it’s a draw, we will still be one point ahead of Villa.
"If we win we won't open the champagne and dance on the tables"
“If they win, they’ll be two points ahead of us so it’s not like we can’t get them at any point during the season. If we are four points away, we won’t open the champagne and dance on the tables because we’re only concerned with staying in this league.
City’s top scorer Teemu Pukki has fired blanks in his last two matches in the Premier League, but Farke is far from concerned about August’s Player of the Month, offering a sarcastic response to questions on his form.
“It’s a big crisis. I’m happy that he goes away with the national team so he can sort out his dry spell. No, in general, it’s the life of a striker. Sometimes you just have to watch the ball and it goes into the goal. He’s had good performances and a lot of workload. It’s not like you can score a hat-trick in every game. I’ve been pleased with him in recent games. It’s just a question of time until he scores again. It’s not a big crisis. It’s quite normal and we’re sure he’ll go on scoring goals.”