Newcastle head to Villa Park to take on Paul Lambert and his struggling Aston Villa outfit.
The unfortunate thing for us is that the word struggling could also be used to describe our form, and with both us and Villa struggling at the foot of the table dare I say this is yet another one of those “six-pointer” games we hear about?
However despite the home loss to Reading in our last outing things have perked up for United. Whilst Villa have exited two cup competitions to lower league opposition since the last round of Premier League games, United have signed four players who have real ability to shake things up in the remaining 15 games of the season which has boosted fan morale and will no doubt put a spring back in the step of some of our players.
Richard Dunne, Fabien Delph, Chris Herd, Marc Albrighton, Gary Gardner and Stilyan Petrov all remain unavailable through various injuries. Nathan Baker is fit again but is unlikely to be risked. Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor are likely to be recalled after sitting out Villa’s FA Cup exit to Millwall on Friday evening.
As you were really in terms of injuries for United. Hatem Ben Arfa is still sidelined, as are Ryan Taylor, Haris Vuckic and Danny Simpson. Dan Gosling is back in training but is still quite a way away from being anywhere near match fit.
Yohan Cabaye is fit after asking to come off against Reading and Steven Taylor has another week of fitness under his belt after picking up a hamstring injury in November while Fabricio Coloccini should start having committed to the club at least on a temporary basis.
In terms of debutants, it’s unlikely but we could see as many as four new faces make their United bow tomorrow evening. Of the quartet I would think Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Moussa Sissoko are the two most likely candidates to start, with Yoan Gouffran and Massadio Haiadra having to make do with strengthening the bench for now at least. Still it gives us depth and options which what we’ve been lacking all season.
Earlier on in the season Villa held United to a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park. It was the same score when we last visited Villa Park after Leon Best gave United the lead and I remember Yohan Cabaye having a cracker in that game. Hopefully he can do the same tomorrow!
At Villa Park there have been 76 games played between the two sides. Villa have won 40 times, United on 18 occasions with the other 18 matches ending in a draw.
Overall 154 matches have been played between the two sides over the years. Newcastle have come out on top 66 times, Villa 55 times with 33 draws making up the numbers.
Stats and facts:
Newcastle have beat Aston Villa 18 times in the Premier League era. That’s more than we have beaten any other team.
United could set a new league record for French players used in a season. At the moment five French players have been used by Alan Pardew and the league record is seven.
Villa are the joint lowest home goalscorers in the league having scored just eight goals at Villa Park. They are joint lowest with QPR.
Newcastle have yet to win away this season in any competition.
I’m wondering if too much is expected of our recent signings, and whether they’ll be rubbished should we lose at Villa Park? Understandably fans want to see our new faces and the argument for a change in our starting XI is kind of overwhelming given how we’ve played this season. However, is it too risky to put them in from the start in such an important game? Would we perhaps be better with players who know the league,like Steven Taylor, coming in for this one?
We need to win this one. It’s achievable but we’ll need to be at our best. Villa will be smarting after last weeks cup exploits and will want to answer some critics, but the fact is that they can be got at easily and if we strike first and hold our heads we can turn the crowd and hopefully use that in our favour.
Howay the lads!
Date: Tuesday, 29th January, 2013
Venue: Villa Park