Charlie Nicholas has claimed that Aston Villa’s defence is ‘struggling to cope’ with the ‘better players’ in the Premier League as he backed them to beat Norwich City on Saturday.

Dean Smith’s side have kept two clean sheets from seven Premier League games this term – both at home against Everton and West Ham.

Last Saturday, they recorded a 2-2 draw at home to Burnley, with Villa blowing their lead on two occasions, including conceding a minute after scoring their second of the game.

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Ahead of that clash, former Arsenal striker Nicholas believes that Villa still have goals in the team despite the perception that they might struggle in the attacking third.

“Villa’s defence is struggling to cope with the better players in the Premier League,” Nicholas told Sky Sports. “They may not score goals, but I believe there are goals in the team.

“You can flip John McGinn and Jack Grealish away from home and Wesley is a threat. Norwich are a good watch as we know.

“Defensively they will leak goals, but how far can Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki take them, alongside Emiliano Buendia and Marco Stiepermann? They give you everything they have, but the first three are the key to going forward – Villa could take advantage of that.”

Villa’s defence has completely changed since their promotion to the Premier League, with Tyrone Mings partnering Bjorn Engels at the heart of the defence.

Added with that, Tom Heaton replaced promotion hero Jed Steer in between the sticks, whilst there has also been a number of changes at fullback.

Smith started with Ahmed Elmohamady and Neil Taylor at fullback for the first two games of the season, but against Burnley, Matt Targett played at left-back, with Fred Guilbert continuing at right-back.

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