NEWCATLE UNITED 6
Barton 12, Nolan 31, 90, Carroll 34, 67, 90 + 3
ASTON VILLA 0
A rampant Newcastle United side dismantled a brittle and disjointed Aston Villa, running out 6-0 winners with local boy Andy Carroll scoring a hat-trick.
Aston Villa lined up with a more conservative 4-4-1-1 formation, with Mark Albrighton and Stewart Downing playing deeper than they had last week against West Ham. Villa’s system as a whole was more rigid – Albrighton and Downing switched wings on occasions but the fluidity that was so effective last week was absent. The more conservative set up was not really a surprise considering that Newcastle were unbeaten at home last season.
The Villains started the better of the two teams. Newcastle’s back four were playing too high up the pitch and with time on the ball Villa midfielders were able to play in John Carew and Ashley Young with ease. This could have cost Newcastle in the 9th minute when Young was brought down in the area by an onrushing Steve Harper in the Newcastle goal, but Carew was to waste the opportunity to score from the penalty spot, blazing the ball over the bar.
Things could have been very different for the team from Birmingham. The penalty miss aside, Villa were able to create several chances in the first-half. Young, who played closest to Carew, was Villa’s best player in the opening period. His runs in behind the Newcastle back line regularly caused problems and he managed to flash a couple of dangerous balls across the face of the Newcastle goal. However Villa’s wide players, who were devastating against the Hammers, struggled to influence the game.
In truth Aston Villa would have considered that they were unlucky to go in at half-time 3-0 down. They had more of the ball and had looked dangerous at times. In the second-half Villa looked like a beaten side, the third goal on 34 minutes coming after a mis-kicked clearance from Richard Dunne was punished by Carroll. The second-half display from Villa was poor, more so with caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald’s curious substitutions, which saw first Emile Heskey and then Stiliyan Petrov shifted to the right wing.
Newcastle battled hard in midfield and Kevin Nolan, Alan Smith and Joey Barton outmuscled Petrov, Young and Villa new boy Stephen Ireland. Unsurprising it was Carroll who picked up the man of the match award playing the target man role superbly – strong, combative and composed, he was clinical in front of goal. It was a performance that a certain former Newcastle No 9 would have been proud of.
Overall it was a strong performance from the Magpies, and it would suggest that Newcastle should have enough to avoid relegation. For Aston Villa it will be a performance they will want to forget about as quickly as possible. It could have been different had Carew scored from the spot early on but Villa were sloppy, brittle and well beaten. It would seem that Villa are looking beyond MacDonald for a permanent manger – Sunday’s performance could prove to be his last in charge.
2 L. Young – 5 Dunne – 47 Clarke – 3 Warnock
12 Albrighton – 19 Petrov – 9 Ireland – 6 Downing
7 A. Young
56 – 18 Heskey on for 12 Albrighton
63 – 20 Reo-Coker on for 10 Carew
89 – 23 Beye on for 47 Clarke