Newcastle Focus – Pardew hoping to build on midweek Europa success with a win over Villa

Alan Pardew says he will feel “absolutely delighted” if his Newcastle side can beat Aston Villa on Sunday and finish their gruelling opening fortnight with another win. Given their opening three Premier League fixtures – which included two of last season’s top four – plus the two Europa League ties against Atromitos, six points and a spot in the group stages of the latter competition would certainly be a healthy return.

We recently wrote that if those five matches came in the second half of the season they would be seen as defining the club’s fortunes and we stand by that. Had Newcastle been knocked out of Europe and had less than three points on the board so far, they would’be going into that Villa match with significantly less confidence. A look at the table shows Sunday’s visitors rooted to the bottom but we are only two games into the season and so they shouldn’t be treated lightly. That said Newcastle have won nine of their 12 home games in 2012 and have only lost one – to a Manchester City side in the title run-in.

Before that there are transfer deadline day and the Europa League draw to navigate. Newcastle did just enough to secure their place in that draw with a 1-0 win over Atromitos. Despite dominating for large periods they never managed to kill the visitors off and they were extremely lucky not to have conceded a clear penalty just minutes before the break. Pardew made seven changes from the Chelsea game, so it was a side that was not as comfortable together as the first team. The match did expose the fact that the beneath that first team the squad has promise rather than depth.

That is not a bad thing but it might be exposed against stronger sides in Europe and if Pardew feels he needs to play his strongest side in Europe it may have a knock-on effect in the League. In fact the European competition already has. Ryan Taylor suffered a nasty knee injury after falling awkwardly after only ten minutes and that might force the Magpies to make an unplanned foray into the transfer market on deadline day. Andy Carroll’s loan move to West Ham means the Magpies bid to bring the big Geordie back to Tyneside has failed, although given how Newcastle have prospered with a different style of play since he left, that might be a blessing.

The flip side of that is that it seems the Magpies will be able to resist the offers they have had from other clubs for some of their bigger name players. That said, there has been speculation that the likes of Yohan Cabaye or Chieke Tiote, possibly both, would be on their way.

Pardew would like to see a big club come to St James Park as a reward for the fans but he should be careful what he wishes for. A nightmare scenario could see the Toon face current holders Athletico Madrid, Napoli and Russian billionaires FC Anzhi Makhachkala. Pardew might not be so delighted at that.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Newcastle v Aston Villa

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