It shows how versatile football can be when two clubs, over 160 miles apart, can consider a match to be a “derby.” Clearly this is a ridiculous statement in the common football sense of the word.
Aston Villa’s main “derby” match features second city rivals Birmingham, whereas Norwich City likes to battle it out with neighbours Ipswich town. But sometimes there are circumstances that make distance or locality irrelevant and more painful factors can create a heated “derby” like atmosphere, with a team that you would normally have no rights feeling animosity for.
The unlikely rivalry between Aston Villa and Norwich City arguably started on the last day of last season, when the two clubs met atCarrow Road. Both sets of supporters spent the majority of the game chanting Lambert’s name.Norwich fans sang for the manager that had taken them on consecutive promotions to the flight, and ensured Premiership status for the following season. Villa’s fans voices came as a plea of desire for him to be installed as the man to imminently replace the despised Alex McLeish. Villa may have lost the match but they won the heart and services of Paul Lambert.
Lamberts switch to Villa was met with outrage in Norfolk. The Canaries are suing for a breach of contract against the Scottish manager but, Lambert is in the process of making a counter claim. This is the first time that the two sides have met since the public showings of bad blood. Yet recent revelations may suggest that tensions between Norwich chairman, Alan Bowkett, and Lambert go further back. Bowkett had criticised Lamberts summer departure on a fans forum, but when asked his thoughts on Bowkett’s claims the Villa boss surprised many by saying, "I don't know because I've never spoken to the chairman for about three years. Perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, maybe two.”
"It's a good chunk of time. Why? That's football. Let him talk. We will see what happens."
Lambert is expecting to receive a lot of stick from the travelling contingent at Villa Park, despite what he did for them. But the Holte End will be backing their man to the rooftops and beyond. That is as long as the home side gets off to a good start.Norwich will still be buzzing from last weekends win against Arsenal, conversely Villa are desperate for a win having made their worst start to the season since 1986. Villa have failed to win in 17 of their last 18 Premier league outings. Prematurely some sections of the media have already tagged this game as a ‘six pointer,’ but I also have a terrible feeling in my groin, that if Villa fail to win tomorrow the ‘boo boys’ will stupidly come out.
Norwich are likely to field the same side that beat Arsenal but Villa may have to field a makeshift defence. Dunne is still out and Clarke and Baker are doubtful. If neither can play then right back Matthew Lowton is likely to partner Vlaar at centre back. Midfielder Ireland will play with his temporary arm cast, but as usual most of the intrigue will be around who Lambert chooses up front. Maybe this will be the weekend when he partners Benteke and Bent together again?
All the ingredients are here for a very interesting game that is about more than just football. With Birmingham City and Ipswich Town nowhere to be seen in the Premiership, Saturday’s match up will make for a refreshingly unhealthy bout between two unlikely rivals.
What are your predictions for the match?
image: © ell brown