Libor Kozak scored his first goal for Aston Villa to earn them victory over Norwich at Carrow Road
Norwich become the first side not to score against Aston Villa since last December. Well done, well done. It's not lost on their fans, who are busy booing what became a fairly dreadful performance. They started encouragingly enough but lacked any sort of invention after Libor Kozak gave an impressive Aston Villa the lead. The second half was a different sort of performance from Villa, one based on grit and organisation and when the moment came, Brad Guzan denied Gary Hooper an equaliser. So Paul Lambert wins again at Carrow Road. Thanks for reading. Bye.
Chris Hughton looks pensive.
90 min+4: Brad Guzan, who once met Nelson Mandela, is surely the man of the match.
90 min+2: Guzan has caught so many of Norwich's crosses. He's barely had to try for most of them.
90 min+1: There will be five added minutes.
90 min: A welcome cheap free-kick for Villa.
88 min: Weimann crosses, Helenius miscontrols. Almost time for my drugs! Then, up the other end, an incredible save from Guzan. Garrido crosses, it misses everyone and seems to hit Hooper, six yards out, on the shins before bouncing down into the ground and back up towards the top-right corner, only for Guzan to acrobatically tip the ball over. He then catches the corner.
86 min: The speed with which Norwich have run out of ideas is staggering. For the money spent, Hughton should be producing more than this.
83 min: Turner picks up the first booking for a wild challenge on Luna.
82 min: Clarke preserves Villa's lead with a magnificent block to deny Van Wolfswinkel. Hooper and Fer took it in turns to tippy-tap the ball between them after a cross from Pilkington, before it was eventually laid back to Van Wolfswinkel, whose shot was deflected behind by a combination of Clark and then Luna. Villa just about deal with the corner.
81 min: Ciaran Clark breathes another sigh of relief. Snodgrass sees Martin making another run in behind on the right and the full-back slams a cross towards the near post which Clark knees over the bar. It easily could have ended up flying past Guzan. As it is, the subsequent corner flies into his hands, much to the frustration of the Norwich fans.
79 min: "I've also met Nelson Mandela so if I ever attain my dream of meeting Guzan at least we'll have something to talk about," says Julian Pearson.
78 min: Villa fans will like what they have seen off Kozak. Delph finds him on the right and a neat touch takes him past Bennett, who does well to recover and deflect his shot past the near post. The corner for Villa comes to nothing.
77 min: Yacouba Sylla is on for Tonev. "On the way to the dentist to have a tooth extracted last year I saw Billy Bonds walking out of M&S at Charing Cross station," says Ian Burch. He looked fantastically fit and healthy and for some reason seeing him brightened my day even though I have no real love for West Ham. I always think of Billy when I go to the dentist now to put me at ease and it works. Thanks Billy."
76 min: This is a let-off for Villa. With everyone expecting a cross from Snodgrass, Pilkington peels away from the pack and back towards the penalty spot. Snodgrass finds him but Pilkington badly scuffs a hurried shot and Villa clear.
75 min: Clark is penalised for handball again as he tussles for the ball with Van Wolfsinkel. This time it was deliberate but it was just outside the area on the right.
74 min: Tonev is a total clown. He will not stop shooting. Is he Darron Gibson in disguise? Weimann leads a speedy Villa counter-attack and finds Tonev, who slices a dreadful shot off in the direction of the corner flag. He had a man over to the right as well.
73 min: Clarence Bacuna sends in a corner from the right and Clark heads wide at the far post. Norwich quickly qive the ball away and Tonev tries another shot from distance. At least this one is on target. "As an expat living in the US, an old-fashioned Norwich-Villa tie is really making me nostalgic: for Paul McGrath and Dwight Yorke and Chrissy Sutton; the long ball game and players covered in mud and rubbish goalies who drop the ball into their own net and Danny Baker, for Subbuteo-themed birthday parties and final score with Des Lynam and crumpets and nights closing in. England in the early-90s was such a wonderful place to b...ok that's enough," says Peter Crosby.
72 min: Bacuna's dangerous free-kick from the left is headed behind for a corner on the right to Villa, whose fans could also call him Clarence.
69 min: Hooper's driven cross from the right is blocked behind for a corner to Norwich. Villa deal with the corner well. There's not a great deal of subtlety to Norwich's attacking now.
66 min: What a waste from Leroy Fer. He steps in to nab possession off a sloppy Villa in their own half and has space to attack on the left. He has Hooper and Van Wolfswinkel to find in the middle but Fer badly overhits his centre and the move ends with Van Wolfswinkel fouling Luna.
65 min: A free-kick to Villa, around 30 yards from goal. Helenius tries to place it carefully into the top corner but it hits one of his own team-mates in the wall and flies behind for a goal-kick to Norwich.
64 min: The Norwich fans weren't happy with Hughton for taking off Redmond, who admittedly was getting little out of the impressive Bacuna. There were chants of "you don't know what you're doing" directed towards Hughton.
63 min: Villa may have to show qualities that are not always associated with them if they are to win this match: tenacity, bite and defensive resilience. Norwich, without playing particularly well, are pinning them back. They know that, more often than not, they score at home. And they've made changes to that effect: Gary Hooper, making his debut, is on for Johan Elmander and Anthony Pilkington replaces Nathan Redmond.
61 min: Aston Villa replace Gabby Agbonlahor with Nicklas Helenius, another of Lambert's intriguing signings from the continent.
59 min: Norwich are gradually improving. Martin slides a brilliant pass inside Luna to Snodgrass, whose low centre is deflected goalwards by a Villa defender, forcing Guzan to palm it away.
58 min: This is better from Norwich. Snodgrass pokes Martin into the Villa area but he can't find Van Wolfswinkel, Clark conceding a corner.
56 min: Suddenly Norwich exert a little pressure. It's not very good pressure but it is pressure and Villa haven't kept a clean sheet since December. Up the other end, Agbonlahor finds Tonev in the area but his shot wafts over.
53 min: It's Villa who are doing most of the attacking. Still. Weimann tries to curl one into the top corner from the edge of the area but his aim is awry. "I'm not noticing the opiate effect as much as I would like," says Linda Howard. "Although over-all you do seem fairly dissatisfied with the Norwich crowd. I don't know your base level of love or hate for them though so with nothing to compare it to I will dismiss it and await something a little more hallicinatory."
52 min: Every so often, you remember that Johan Elmander is playing. It's not entirely clear why Norwich have signed him.
51 min: I'm staggered by Norwich's dip since the goal. They were bright and inventive before it but it's been so flat since then. Villa are comfortable and the game is drifting.
49 min: It's still so quiet inside Carrow Road. Not much has happened yet.
47 min: Guzan, we learn, has met Nelson Mandela. I must say I'm much better for gaining that knowledge. Who have you met?
46 min: Here we go again. Shouty Tannoy Man announces the second half as the second half begins. Thanks Shouty Tannoy Man! Norwich are soon on the front foot and Snodgrass is fouled by Luna on the right. Snodgrass dinks the free-kick in and Guzan gets nowhere near the ball, and is grateful to see Bennett head well wide.
"How are Villa coping without Jores Okore (who actually fell asleep during his medical, thinking about what English accent he should adopt)?" says my colleague Marcus Christenson.
Well Norwich have had a few excellent chances and Ciaran Clark, his replacement, gave away an unfortunate penalty for handball. Villa are the better side though.
Sullen boos greet Chris Foy's half-time whistle from the Norwich fans. Perhaps that's a bit harsh. With a bit more luck - and, indeed, accuracy from 12 yards from Robert Snodgrass - their side might have gone into the break ahead. They played well in the first 30 minutes. But so did Villa. Both sides have had plenty of chances and Villa took theirs thanks to Libor Kozak. Since then, Norwich have been poor. The worry for Villa, who are grateful to Brad Guzan for saving Snodgrass's early penalty, is Benteke's injury, though. See you in 15 minutes.
45 min+2: Bacuna Matata concedes a corner in comical fashion - a looping backpass delivered 40 yards away from his own goal. Guzan isn't happy. Before the corner can be taken, there's a stoppage to check why Kozak is down rubbing his head. Once it's decided he's ok, he gets up and heads the corner away.
45 min+1: Redmond is forced outside and blooters a cross/shot over the bar. Norwich have been terrible since going behind.
45 min: Some aimless Norwich possession ends with Ryan Bennett handily hoofing the ball out for a throw-in. That's it, play for position. Tactical. There will be two minutes of stoppage time.
43 min: In the same way that West Ham never beat Harry Redknapp, Norwich fans must fear they'll never beat Paul Lambert. He knows how to win here. Heck, he once did it to the tune of 7-1 with Colchester United.
41 min: Tonev, fond of a long-range effort, fails to prove why, dragging one well wide from 25 yards.
40 min: Carrow Road is very quiet. The Norwich fans need Shouty Tannoy Man of kick-off fame to bellow at them to MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!!!!!
39 min: Bacuna - whose nickname, it is to be hoped, is Matata - sees a free-kick headed wide for a corner to Villa on the right. The corner is wasted.
38 min: Ryan Bennett replaces the stricken Sebastien Bassong.
37 min: Somehow the Norwich fans manage to contain the giggles as Bassong signals he won't be able to continue after injuring his hamstring.
36 min: Norwich need half-time. Or a goal. Or to play better. Agbonlahor whips a horrible ball into the six-yard box and Ruddy does well to push it away as it arcs towards the far post, especially as El-Ahmadi threw himself in front of the goalkeeper just before he made the save.
35 min: The woman sitting next to Delia Smith has purple hair. Meanwhile I don't think Mark Halsey likes Chris Foy; he's disagreed with a lot of decisions.
34 min: It's just a wonder there hadn't already been a goal. It could be 2-1. Or 3-2. Or 2-3. Or 3-3! Who knows? What a wonderful sport.
32 min: That's the first time Villa have scored first this season. The Norwich fans might be regretting those epic lolz now.
What an introduction to English football for Libor Kozak! He's scored with, er, his second touch! His first wasn't very good. He was played through by an absolutely wonderful pass by Weimann, who pierced the Norwich defence when there didn't appear to be a hole to pierce. Kozak was in the clear but went for the wrong corner, perhaps trying to kid Ruddy, who went down low to his right to save the striker's right-footed effort. No matter, Agbonlahor was quickly on to the loose ball and instead of shooting, he rolled it back to Kozak, who took the right option this time, calmly placing the ball into the left corner with his right foot, beating Ruddy and the man on the line. Who needs Christian Benteke? (Aston Villa.)
28 min: And that's the end for Benteke. Libor Kozak, Villa's new signing from Lazio, replaces him, and the Czech forward is almost involved immediately but Ruddy reaches Agbonlahor's teasing cross before him.
26 min: State of modern football fans. Benteke tries to come back on to the pitch, walks two yards and then crumples in a heap. This is the cue for the Norwich fans to jeer and cheer. Ha ha, he's injured! Ha ha! That's so funny! With Villa down to 10 men, Norwich nearly make them pay. Snodgrass finds Martin in behind Luna and his excellent cross is swept just past the left post by Van Wolfswinkel, who met it on the volley. It looked like it was in. I'm not sure Guzan was getting there.
25 min: A worrying sight for Villa fans; Benteke is down after an innocuous collision with Bassong. The defender didn't actually do anything but Benteke seemed to slip and pull a muscle as he fell. He's limping off now and Villa are down to 10 men momentarily.
23 min: Snodgrass curls in a free-kick from the left but Van Wolfswinkel heads it tamely at Guzan. "How were the warm up track suits today?" says Sean Boiling. "I missed mention of them, I blame the painkillers." Villa had natty white tops on.
21 min: Delph is suddenly in the clear on the left but Bassong cuts out his attempted pass through to the onrushing Tonev, who had made a great run forward in support of his team-mate. This match is impossible to call. But surely both sides are going to score.
20 min: From the resulting corner, Benteke makes a nuisance of himself again and Vlaar screws an instinctive, spinning volley a few yards wide of the right post from 15 yards out. It wasn't a great chance. He was moving away from goal and was falling as he hit it.
19 min: Villa's front three is magnificent. Weimann drifts in from the left flank and finds Agbonlahor, who throws Norwich's defence off-balance with a neat lay-off to Benteke. He shimmies inside, trying to make space for the shot but when he does let fly, Turner manages to get enough on his block to spend it spinning inches past the left post.
17 min: How is this goalless? Norwich want a free-kick as Benteke muscles the dithering Bassong off the ball in his own half. Benteke storms down the left and tricks his way past the hapless Bassong in the area. He's forced too wide and tries to set up one of his team-mates, only to pull the ball back in between Agbonlahor and Tonev. Either would have had a fantastic chance to score.
15 min: Snodgrass is class, isn't he. If only he had a greater turn of pace.
14 min: Snodgrass, menacing on the right, wins a corner on the right. His corner from the right is headed away by Ciaran Clark's head.
12 min: An outrageous miss by Richard van Wolfswinkel. Norwich had Villa pinned back here, with Snodgrass especially influential. After failing to get a couple of crosses into the area he finally succeeds, curling one to the far post from the right flank with his left foot. Villa's defence is all over the place and Redmond steals in, managing to control a pass across the six-yard box on the bounce. It sits up for Van Wolfswinkel, right in front of goal, but instead of heading it into the empty net, he chests it over.
11 min: There hasn't been a chance for at least two minutes. I want my money back, Premier League.
9 min: If nothing else, you could say it was quite clumsy defending from Clark that led to the penalty and perhaps that was what convinced Foy to award it. Whatever, though, it didn't matter in the end.
8 min: Guzan was quite far off his line but Mark Halsey decrees there was no problem with the goalkeeper's positioning.
7 min: What a save by Brad Guzan from Robert Snodgrass's penalty! He hits it firmly with his left foot but it was at a nice height for Guzan and not quite in the corner and he dived to his left to push the penalty away. What a start. More please!
6 min: A high cross from the left is headed back across goal by Snodgrass and Clark handles in the six-yard box. It looked harsh though. There wasn't much he could do to get out of the way. But a penalty it is.
5 min: This is the first time I've watched BT Sport. I really didn't need Mark Halsey to chime in and explain why Benteke, who was offside, was offside there.
3 min: This is a brilliant game of football already! Brilliant! Agbonlahor breaks down the left flank, standing Bassong up as he reaches the byline. He cuts a pass back to Weimann, who manages to get the ball out from under his feet, open up his body and curl a delicious low effort past Ruddy and against the face of the left post from 15 yards! It comes back to Benteke, whose rebound is wonderfully saved by Ruddy. He's offside anyway.
2 min: Now it's Norwich's turn to attack. Redmond tries to play a give and go with Elmander and when the ball deflects back to him, he slams a first-time shot miles over the bar from the edge of the area with his left foot.
Peep! And we are off, Villa getting us underway and kicking from right to left in the first half. As they take kick-off, the eedjit on the tannoy booms out "Come on, make some noise!!!!". Though Agbonlahor nearly shoves those words right back down his throat in no time. He breaks past a tame challenge from Turner but shoots straight at Ruddy from the edge of the area.
Michael Owen observes that Gabriel Agbonlahor's two goals in Aston Villa's 2-1 win over Norwich last season "really were the difference between the two teams".
Here come the teams. On BT Sport, David James was going for a Villa win but has changed his mind because it's quite sunny in one half. What? I'm pretty sure I didn't imagine it but I have just wolfed down some codeine and Ray Winstone's head is floating around my living room.
"Why so biased?" says JR in Illinois. "You've mentioned Lambert twice as much as you have Hughton. And for some reason you're biased against wisdom teeth, too. How many did you have out? Were they impacted? That can make it a little nasty. Also, nice to see Chris Hoy staying busy after the Olympics." Three. Two had a nerve wrapped around it so they had to do A Procedure.
Apologies in advance for the next two hours - there's a strong chance I'm going to nod off and it will have nothing to do with the quality of the football. I've spent most of the week asleep after having my wisdom teeth taken out on Monday and these painkillers are having quite the effect. Do not be alarmed if one entry reads
30 min: Agbonlahor races down the left flank, goes past Howson anflvrenedwlkncfdklcfldwkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk\zzzzzzzzzznlk SORRY WHAT DID I MISS
Paul Lambert is unbeaten in his three matches against Norwich since leaving them for Villa. There was a 1-1 draw at Villa Park last October, while he won 4-1 at Carrow Road in the Capital One Cup and 2-1 in the league. He knows his way round this place.
Team news. In which you receive news about the teams.
Norwich: Ruddy; Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Snodgrass, Howson, Fer, Redmond; Elmander; van Wolfswinkel. Subs: Bunn, Whittaker, Hooper, Pilkington, Hoolahan, R Bennett, Tettey.
Aston Villa: Guzan; Bacuna, Clark, Vlaar, Luna; Delph, El Ahmadi, Tonev; Weimann, Agbonlahor, Benteke. Subs: Steer, Baker, Albrighton, Sylla, Kozak, Helenius, Bennett.
Referee: Chris Foy.
Morning. For certain Premier League clubs, their role is to do little more than exist. They're not going down, they're not going up, they're just being: clubs. Really, all they have to do is not fall into financial disrepair and make sure they entertain their fans as much as possible. Whether Chris Hughton understands the second point is unclear. He has been permitted to spend heavily by Norwich this summer but, by all accounts, all they did at White Hart Lane last weekend was turn up, cross their fingers and hope to escape with their dignity intact. They did, losing 2-0 to a very good Tottenham side, but their travelling fans surely would have liked to seen them have a go. There's dignity in defeat, sure; there's even more in glorious defeat.
Paul Lambert, back at Carrow Road today, understands that. His Aston Villa side shouldn't go down and he knows they can't break the glass ceiling. So what's left to do beyond having some fun? Villa can't defend. They concede lots of goals. But they can score goals. Lots of goals. It means his Villa side can enjoy riotous afternoons winning 3-1 at Arsenal. It means his Norwich side were capable of drawing 3-3 at Tottenham and winning at Tottenham. It also means that they will lose at home to Newcastle and against Bradford in the FA Cup. That's the trade-off. What's better? Hughton's Norwich will lose 1-0 at Hull but they can beat Arsenal and Manchester United by the same scoreline at home. In the end, Norwich and Villa are probably going to end up in roughly the same place. So what's it all for? The journey, guys.
Or thereabouts. In the meantime, here's our match preview:
Paul Lambert returns to the club that he left under a cloud a year ago and while he believes that "the fans have always been good with me", the Aston Villa manager still harbours bitterness towards the Norwich hierachy over his departure. Lambert will be eager to prove his point by getting a good result at Carrow Road but he will have to do so without Jores Okore – Ciaran Clark is expected to step in. Rich Flower
Subs from Bunn, Nash, Pilkington, Martin, Howson, Hooper, Hoolahan, Becchio, Olsson, Fox, Ayala, Tettey
Doubtful Hooper (match fitness)
Injured E Bennett (knee, unknown), R Bennett (knee, unknown)
Discipline Y6 R0
Leading scorers Redmond, Van Wolfswinkel, Whittaker 1
Subs from Given, Steer, Baker, Herd, Bennett, Bacuna, Helenius, Albrighton, Sylla, Bowery, Gardner, Tonev, Kozak
Injured Okore (knee, May), N'Zogbia (calf, unknown)
Discipline Y13 R0
Leading scorer Benteke 4