Aston Villa will be hoping to register their first Premier League win of the season when they play host to Newcastle United at the Villa Park on Saturday.

Aston Villa and Newcastle United will be hoping to recover from their opening weekend setbacks when they lock horns in the Saturday afternoon Premier League fixture on Matchday 2.

Aston Villa kickstarted their 2021/22 campaign with a shock 3-2 loss to newly-promoted Watford away at Vicarage Road. Dean Smith’s team were missing players, yet their performance on the day left a lot to be desired. The 3-2 scoreline really flattered the Midlands’ club, who were pretty dismal and were comfortably outplayed.

On the other hand, Newcastle played an entertaining affair against West Ham but came on the wrong end of a 4-2 loss at the St James’ Park, a game in which they were horribly exposed the back, without the presence of captain Jamaal Lascelles. Manager Steve Bruce will need to find a quick fix to the issue as their weekend opponents have the firepower in attack to exploit their weakness at the back.

When these sides faced each other last time out at Villa Park, Newcastle were beaten 2-0 by Aston Villa; first-half strikes from Watkins and Bertrand Traore were enough to seal a comfortable victory for the Villans. Both the teams need to sort out their issues as early as possible if they are aiming to contest for a top-half finish in the Premier League.

Team News & Tactics

Aston Villa

Aston Villa have been dealt with a major blow as manager Dean Smith confirmed that the Newcastle game might come a bit early for Ollie Watkins, who also missed the season opener against Watford due to a suspected knee injury. In more bad news, Bertrand Traore sustained a hamstring problem in the behind-the-closed-doors friendly against Liverpool, which will keep him out until the international break at least.

Trezeguet and Keinan Davis are also out with long-term injuries. In a piece of little positive news, Morgan Sanson and Douglas Luiz are available and may feature in the weekend clash, although Luiz may not be able to start as he has just returned to training following a short break after his participation in the Olympics for Brazil.

Smith may persist with the 4-2-3-1 setup with a few personnel changes in the starting lineup. Indispensable Emiliano Martinez will play between the sticks; the reliable custodian could do little about the conceded goals against the Hornets and largely kept the scoreline respectable, making some brilliant saves.

In central defence, we have the solid English duo of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa. At full-back, both Matt Targett and Matty Cash will seek redemption after poor displays in the Watford game. Targett was easily outdone by electric Watford winger Ismaila Sarr last time out and will have to improve; otherwise, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron will make the afternoon a tough one for him.

Douglas Luiz will be a welcome addition alongside the tenacious McGinn, who was the only shining light in the last game. Leon Bailey will replace Ashley Young on the left wing after impressing in his cameo against Watford, while Emiliano Buendia will operate as the No. 10, with Anwar El Ghazi filling the hole on the right-wing left by the absence of Traore.

Watkins’ absence means Danny Ings will again lead the line for the Villans. He will need to step up his performance and find his footing after a difficult outing last time out when he was easily dealt with by the Watford defenders.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Targett, Konsa, Mings, Cash; Luiz, McGinn, Bailey, Buendia, El Ghazi; Ings

Aston Villa Probable Lineup

Newcastle United

The Magpies are set to miss Jonjo Shelvey due to a calf strain, but Joe Willock is eligible to play after missing last weekend’s game owing to late registration. Paul Dummett and Elliot Anderson will miss the fixture due to respective injury issues. It’s unlikely that Steve Bruce would tinker with the 5-3-2 formation, which worked wonders for him in the past.

Martin Dubravka is still sidelined with a foot injury, while Karl Darlow is still dealing with the aftereffects of COVID-19, meaning young keeper Freddie Woodman will hold his spot as Newcastle’s No. 1.

A reshuffle at the back is expected from Bruce after last weekend’s defensive horror show with captain Jamaal Lascelles and Swiss defender Fabian Schar returning to the starting lineup, replacing Emil Krafth and Clark. So back three will consist of Lascelles, Schar and Federico Fernandez.

Jacob Murphy and Matt Ritchie will continue to operate as wing-backs. Both are typical wingers who have transitioned to wing-back owing to their crossing ability, but oppositions have now identified them as weak links, something Newcastle must need to be wary of.

New signing Joe Willock will play alongside combative Isaac Hayden and Miguel Almiron to form a Midfield three just behind the forwards. Willock will obviously push forwards sniffing for a goal, while Almiron will be the engine to push Newcastle up the field.

Spearheading the attack for the visitors will be the dynamic duo of Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Woodman; Schar, Lascelles, Fernandez; Ritchie, Hayden, Willock, Almiron, Murphy; Saint-Maximin, Wilson

Newcastle United

Key Stats

  • Newcastle United only have bad memories playing at Villa Park as they suffered two relegations in the past and have never won there in the last eight years.
  • Since falling to a narrow 1-0 at Newcastle United back in February 2015, Aston Villa have gone undefeated in their previous six Premier League meetings with the Magpies, with two victories and four draws.
  • The Tyneside outfit have failed to score in any of their past four Premier League visits to Villa Park and will be looking to end a record of 377 minutes of barren run without a Premier League goal at Aston Villa.
  • Prolific centre-forward Callum Wilson will again be the main source of goals for the Magpies; he has now contributed to roughly 40.5% goals in the top flight since arriving at St James’ Park.
  • Joe Willock has scored in his last seven consecutive Premier League appearances for Newcastle; if he scores against Villa, then he will break the record of legendary striker Alan Shearer who scored eight goals on the bounce for the Magpies. This will leave Willock only three goals behind record-holder Jamie Vardy (11).

Player to Watch

Allan Saint-Maximin

Embed from Getty Images

The electrifying winger will be the main source of creativity for the Magpies. Saint-Maximin is a top dribbler and his tremendous pace, power and incredible ball control make him a nightmare for defenders to deal with. While his end-product disappoints at times, the Frenchman has worked upon it, which was evident towards the end of the last campaign.

In the game against West Ham, the 24-year-old laid on four key passes and completed ten dribbles; he also notched up one assist in the process. Aston Villa needs to keep him at bay; otherwise, he could prove deadly.

Prediction

Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle United

It is a close call, but in our view, the new signings at Aston Villa would still need some time to embed properly in the new setup, while Ollie Watkins will be a big miss for the hosts as well.

Villa are likely to have the lion’s share of possession as they try to impose themselves on the game. However, this might play into Newcastle’s favour as the Magpies play on fast breaks using the pace up front with the likes of Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron, Joe Willock and Allan Saint-Maximin.

Newcastle could, thus, take the lead through Willock, but with the likes of Danny Ings and Leon Bailey on the field, Villa should be able to strike back. But as the game stretches, the Magpies could strike again with Wilson and Saint-Maximin likely to be the protagonists. This goal should prove to be the eventual winner, helping Steve Bruce & co. get off the mark.

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