Now playing with renewed confidence, Newcastle United will be looking to secure a third straight win when they host an Aston Villa team for whom any points at all would come as a major bonus at present.
After upsetting the odds to deservedly get the better of Liverpool through a Georginio Wijnaldum double, the Magpies went into their game at Tottenham last weekend initially with the intention of playing a containing game. It was a system that worked for 40 minutes until they were undone by a set-piece, but once they started to throw men forward in the second half they were a real threat and eventually reaped the benefits to come away with a tremendous result.
The two attacking substitutions made by Head Coach Steve McClaren in the second half made all the different as Aleksandar Mitrovic gave his side much more of a presence in attack and plundered the equaliser, before Ayoze Perez fired the stoppage time winner. It is crucial that these two performances do not turn out to be a false dawn, and here the supporters will be expecting a high-energy showing, full of endeavour. Do that, and Newcastle should win and continue moving away from the bottom three.
A fairly comfortable defeat at home to Arsenal was the signal for many observers to write off Aston Villa as virtual relegation certainties, with some urging boss Remi Garde to devote the upcoming January transfer window to preparing for next season in the Championship. While that may have occurred to some at the club behind closed doors, the public message will be that they will still strive haul themselves out of the desperate position they are currently in.
Garde’s arrival has so far been unable to spark the team into life and although they did have their moments against Arsenal, their lack of quality and indeed finishing ability was clear for all to see. There is an obvious lack of leadership in the side and although he shows promise, there is too much responsiblity on young French midfielder Jordan Veretout, one of several members of the squad whose lack of Premier League experience is being exposed. Villa need a good festive period to stand any chance of making a great escape, particularly as they also face Norwich City and Sunderland in the next four games.
There are no new injury concerns for Newcastle, who are boosted by the return of Cheick Tiote after three games out with a groin injury.
Aston Villa could make changes to their starting XI, but are likely to still be without captain Micah Richards.
Last Meeting: This game back in February proved to be Newcastle’s last win until the final day of the season, as they triumphed by a goal to nil in a closely contested affair. The only goal was scored by Papiss Cisse eight minutes before half-time, with the striker converting Darryl Janmaat’s cross to condemn Villa to a seventh straight loss.
Played for both – Nolberto Solano: Without doubt the most popular Peruvian to have played in the Premier League, Solano spent a total of eight years at Newcastle over two spells, representing them in the Champions League under Sir Bobby Robson and made well over 200 appearances. In the middle of all that he spent the 2004-05 season at Villa, where he top scored with eight league goals.
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