Wit Newcastle you never know what your are going to get. They are to the Premier League what a box of chocolates is to Forrest Gump.
Few can deny that these past two victories have been a massively pleasant surprise give that prior to that it was virtually impossible to see where our next points were going to come from. Those wins came in games where nothing was expected from us but this match against Aston Villa is a completely different kettle of fish.
We are the home side for this one which adds an element of expectancy as it will be up to us to push the game, but the two wins mean that the pressure is on us to show that we are getting better and that these victories weren’t just flukes.
On the other hand you have Aston Villa who are in a perilous position but will have looked at our back-to-back wins and seen what a difference they can make – and where better to start the ball rolling than against a side who realistically aren’t too far ahead of them?
A rare boost on the injury front for Steve McClaren as Cheik Tiote returns to the squad having missed the last three matches with a groin injury.
However the treatment room is still almost full with Tim Krul, Steven Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Massadio Haidara, Jamaal Lascelles, Mike Williamson and Rolando Aarons all taking up spaces on the sidelines. Emmanuel Riviere and Sylvain Marveaux seem to have just vapourised into thin air.
Micah Richards has missed the two previous games for Villa but will undergo a fitness test prior to the game to assess his ability to return to the side. Remi Garde’s only other injury concern is Gary Gardner who is sidelined with a knee injury.
Newcastle have much the better historical record in meetings between the two sides, especially at St James’ Park where there have been 77 matches played with United winning 48 of those. Villa have won on just 14 visits to Tyneside with their last victory coming over a decade ago in that now infamous Dyer/Bowyer game.
Overall it is United who still hold the advantage but the record is quite obviously closer when you include meetings at Villa Park. The 154 matches have yielded 68 wins for United and 52 for Aston Villa.
Stats and facts:
Newcastle are looking for consecutive home victories for the first time in this calendar year.
All of United’s victories this season have been in matches broadcast live on television.
Both Villa and United have lost ten points from winning positions so far this season.
Aston Villa have not won a league game in 15 attempts – their worst league run ever.
No team with the same amount of points as Villa (six) at this stage of the season has ever stayed in the Premier League.
Villa have kept just two clean sheets this term.
I’ve said many times now that it’s games like this that worry me. They are potential banana skins. Everyone seems to be looking at this like it a home banker but I can’t see where that logic is coming from.
Yes we’ve won two games but that doesn’t mean that we’re all of a sudden out of the mess because quite frankly we aren’t. What I do know is that if we match the effort and commitment of the last two games then we are giving ourselves the best chance of adding more points to our tally and taking them away from a team that is currently below us which simply has to be the aim.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 19th December, 2015
Venue: St James’ Park