Premier League football returns to Carrow Road this weekend as Norwich City host Aston Villa for the 17th Premier League meeting between the sides.
However, one of City’s best results against the Villans came in the Championship in April 2018, as Daniel Farke’s side secured a 3-1 win against the then fourth placed Aston Villa.
Norwich City 3-1 Aston Villa
7 April, 2018
What was on the line?
For Norwich, relatively little. Having played 40 of the Championship’s 46 fixtures ahead of this game, City were twelfth in the table following a mixed run of form throughout the campaign. Relegation wasn’t a concern and the play-offs were out of reach.
The game held greater significance for City’s opposition, who were competing for a place in the play-offs at the business end of the season. Two defeats and one draw in the four games prior to their visit to Carrow Road didn’t do them any favours in that quest, but they were still somewhat comfortably placed within the top four.
How did the game unfold?
The breakthrough didn’t come until the brink of half-time, but when it did, the City fans were treated to an absolute screamer from Josh Murphy. Cutting in from the right wing courtesy of James Maddison’s lay-off, Murphy took his time to look up and had the audacity to pull off a world-class strike from about 30-yards out, picking the top left corner out via the post with a beautiful curled effort.
After Murphy had crafted that chance out of nothing, he played his part in creating City’s second goal in the second half as well. Receiving the ball from Jamal Lewis, Murphy took on Ahmed Elmohamady with a lung-busting run down the left wing.
Murphy then played it inside to Harrison Reed, who flicked the ball delicately over the Villa to defence to Dennis Srbeny. Reading the offside line well, Srbeny finished the move with his first touch, cushioning the ball past Sam Johnstone for 2-0.
Jack Grealish threw a spanner in the works with his 67th minute strike from inside the D to keep Villa in the game, but Norwich made sure of the three points just moments later.
The ever-present Murphy was involved again, winning the ball back high up the pitch for City. Maddison made an inviting run into the box to his left, and Murphy put it on a plate for him. Maddison couldn’t miss, putting City 3-1 up with 18 minutes to go.
Norwich City: Gunn, Hanley, Pinto, Klose, Lewis, Reed (Hoolahan 83’), Maddison (Zimmermann 80’), Tettey, Vrancic, Murphy, Srbeny (Oliveira 85’)
Subs not used: McGovern, Husband, Edwards, Leitner
What happened next?
City won only one of their final five games in the league – a record that saw them finish 14th in the Championship in Daniel Farke’s first campaign as Norwich boss, 15 points below the play-off places and 19 above the relegation zone.
As for Villa, the result must have felt like an untimely defeat during their push for the play-offs. Steve Bruce’s side ultimately finished fourth in the Championship that season, only missing out on promotion to the Premier League at the hands of third-placed Fulham in the play-off final.
What the media said
“Norwich put in one of their best performances of the campaign despite having little to play for.” [BBC]
“Man of the Match: Josh Murphy - not only a superb assist, but a real contender for goal of the season to nestle nicely alongside it.” [Sky Sports]
“Josh Murphy was superb in a potent attacking display capped by a first half strike of pure quality.” [Eastern Daily Press]