Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has backed Aston Villa to beat us 2-1 on Monday night, while having his say on Steve Bruce and us Newcastle supporters.
Nicholas says that we “have to admit” that Bruce is not only facing a ‘tough job’ but has been “superb” so far.
‘Superb’ is not the word I would’ve chosen given how poor we’ve been at times this season – Bruce has himself rated his start at a a 6/10 – however he must be given real credit for our recent upturn in form.
Here is what the Sky Sports pundit had to say ahead of the game in his latest predictor piece:
“I have been impressed with both of these sides. Steve Bruce wants to play better football but he has a lack of choices. Newcastle fans have to admit that this is a tough job and he is having to battle through, which I think he has done superbly thus far. Bruce may just be proving his point that he needs a couple of players. Mike Ashley may not be able to give him exactly what he wants but he could get a couple of loan deals or get one through the door if someone leaves.”
“John McGinn is playing further forward and it is working a trick. Aston Villa need to nurture and control leads much better, and at times they leave themselves vulnerable. That being said, I have to admire the way Dean Smith goes about it. Villa is also Bruce’s old club and will sit in once again, but Villa will sneak it. There is enough about them to create enough chances.”
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Newcastle
Nicholas claims the job has been made difficult based on a “lack of options” at Bruce’s disposal but, in reality, with the injury list getting shorter, he may have a selection dilemma ahead of Monday’s match!
With Schar and Lejuene coming back into contention, Shelvey returning to form and both Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle fighting for a place in the starting 11, Bruce has plenty positive selection dilemmas – not a ‘lack of options’.
We have been playing better football in recent weeks and although Villa are in a poor run of form, losing their last three games, they haven given Man City and Liverpool tough games.
It will be a tough match, but we are the form team, meaning Steve Bruce must fancy his chances of picking up positive result against his former side.