Dean Smith will return to Villa Park just a month on from being sacked as Aston Villa manager when his Norwich City side visit in the Premier League.
Smith is still fondly thought of for his tenure at Villa, but after a run of 5 consecutive top flight defeats, the 50-year-old was relieved of his duties at his boyhood club.
It didn’t take him long to find a new post though, with Norwich City swift in snaffling Smith just 8 days after his Aston Villa departure.
Smith replaced the outgoing Daniel Farke at Carrow Road, who, much like his successor is considered at Villa, remains fondly thought of by all associated with the Canaries.
Despite the German’s success since arriving in 2017, the powers that be at Norwich decided the time was right for a change in management.
The task was clear for the incoming Dean Smith – keep Norwich in the Premier League – and since taking the role the Canaries have looked better, but still some way off survival and at the foot of the table.
The gap to safety stands at 3 points, a difference Norwich will have lessened had they picked up points against relegation rivals Newcastle a fortnight ago – but despite the Toon’s 10 men, they could only muster a point.
Back-to-back defeats to Tottenham and Manchester United followed, and now Smith welcomes former employers Aston Villa to Carrow Road.
Smith’s replacement at Villa Park – Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard – could hardly have hoped for a better start to life as a Premier League manager.
The ex-Rangers boss immediately steadied the ship with consecutive wins in his first two games in charge, putting an end to a run of 5 defeats on the spin beforehand.
Only title challengers Manchester City and Liverpool have taken points off Villa in the Premier League since Gerrard’s arrival, with that 1-0 reverse at Gerrard’s former stomping ground of Anfield coming as recently as Saturday.
Villa haven’t blown anyone away in their 3 victories since Gerrard took charge, but they have played with a doggedness and spirit – something Norwich showed themselves in their unfortunate 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Premier League last time out.
Not only did Norwich lose the game to Manchester United but they also lost some key players who they’ll be missing for the visit of Aston Villa, with defenders Grant Hanley and Andrew Omobamidele both absent.
Christos Tzolis is unavailable due to coronavirus, whilst Milot Rashica remains unfit and won’t play this side of Christmas.
Brandon Williams returns to the fold after being ineligible against parent club Manchester United, Ben Gibson meanwhile is pushing for selection after returning to training this week.
Aston Villa meanwhile remain without long-term absentee Bertrand Traore and will also be missing Leon Bailey until the new year due to a hamstring strain.
Marvelous Nakamba, who has impressed since Gerrard’s arrival at Villa, will also sit the game out with a knee problem.
Norwich City v Aston Villa is a 7.45pm kick off on Tuesday 14th December.